“Howl’s Moving Castle” Review

(This review contains spoilers. Read at your own discretion.)

The book, not the beautifully animated Ghibli movie*. That’s a review for another time.

Howl’s Moving Castle is one of the most enchanting and creative fantasy books I’ve ever read. Part of me wished that I’d read it when I was younger; this is definitely something eight-year-old Dev would love wholeheartedly. We have Sophie Hatter, the eldest of three who believes that she’s fated for misfortune. After finding herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady by the Witch of the Waste, she sets off for the ever-moving castle in the hills: Wizard Howl’s castle.

If I were to describe Howl’s Moving Castle in one word, it would be charming. If we’re looking for two words, add whimsical. In a world where fairy tale tropes are the characters’ reality, it’s ingenuous and impressive how Jones intertwines all strands of the story together. The castle, in my opinion, is the peak of all magical things featured in this book; it’s a truly fascinating invention. Its ability to move combined with the front door, with its multicoloured square knob that opens to four different locations depending which way it’s turned, is one of the most unique things I’ve ever read about in a fantasy book.

Although this novel is largely timeless, it takes its time to get to the action as to familiarise readers with the characters. I really felt for Sophie, the main lady, who feels so timid and trapped in her seemingly dead end situation. I loved how she found her strength in herself and persevered despite her curse, amongst multiple hardships. And Howl, the delightful yet childish drama queen, will guarantee to steal your heart—because that’s what he does for the majority of the book, anyway.

Besides the two central characters, I absolutely love the side characters and their weird, amusing idiosyncracies. We have the multifunctional fire demon Calcifer, the kindhearted apprentice Michael, Sophie’s sisters Lettie and Martha and so much more.

Howl’s Moving Castle is romantic, thrilling, and completely absorbing—perfect for a calm afternoon of lighthearted reading. Its concept is original and refreshing, boldened by its brilliant and hilarious execution. Though it is marketed towards children, that doesn’t mean the older crowd should be left out of the fun. It’s a timeless and engaging piece of fiction that only grows better with age.

If you’ve made this far into my post, thank you for reading! Have you read Howl’s Moving Castle before? If so, what did you think? If not, would you consider it? Let me know in the comments and I’ll see you in my next post.

Until next time,

*You need not worry about spoilers for the movie. Whilst the characters and premise remain more or less the same, the movie reinvents the plot entirely. Both are magical and lovable in their own unique ways.

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