Howl's Moving Castle

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Posted by Cobalt | Posted in , , , , | Posted on 9:56 AM


Rating: 5/5 stars

Gorgeous tale of Sophie Hatter, the eldest of three daughters (and therefore destined to fail first and worst in fortune-seeking), who gets cursed by the Witch of the Waste after an altercation in a hat shop. The curse turns Sophie into an old woman and forces her into the very sort of fortune-seeking that she had been trying very hard to avoid, which in turn leads to her becoming a tenant in the moving castle of the Wizard Howl – a mysterious character infamous for seducing young girls and eating their hearts. Sophie soon discovers that things aren’t exactly what she thought they were through her encounters with the chatty and untrustworthy fire demon Calcifer, a menacing hopping scarecrow and the infuriatingly vain and self-absorbed Howl himself.

Liked: Absolutely spot-on tone, perfect mixture of magical whimsical and an incisive practicality that oddly reminds me of Jane Austen. Sophie is wonderfully strong-willed even as she struggles under a sense of perpetual failure that is all the more powerful for its muted presentation. Howl, of course, becomes totally delightful; I fell in love with him and the book itself at the line:

“On the other hand, it is quite a risk to spank a wizard for getting hysterical about his hair.”

Sophisticated and neat use of magic through interwoven threads of meaning that aren’t fully explained; curses through poetry, talking life into objects, and so on.

Setbacks: That there aren’t an infinite number of Diana Wynne Jones books. The ending was a bit abrupt in a sense, but it ties together quite neatly and there wasn’t any reason to dawdle. But now I need more Diana Wynne Jones. It is a tragic state I'm in, I tell you!

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