Book: Howl’s Moving Castle
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Year Published: 1986
Genre: Older children’s fantasy
Overall Rating: 4 stars
Target Audience: Children between 10 and 15
Romance: Several, all innocent
Setting: The magical country of Ingary
Characters: Sophie, Howl, the Witch of the Waste, Michael, Calcifer, Sophie’s sisters and several others
Plot: In this story, Sophie is a young girl, about 18, and the oldest of three sisters. She knows she is set to have a boring life because of it. Her father dies, and her stepmother is left with caring for the family. The stepmother sends the other two daughters away to make their fortunes, while Sophie is left caring for the hat shop. One day, Sophie is mistaken for someone else and the Witch of the Waste curses her to look like an old woman. Sophie runs away and comes across a moving castle in the wilderness. Once there, all kinds of adventures ensue, despite the fact that she is the oldest of three.
Thoughts: This book is amazing. It is fun, quirky, humorous and light-hearted. In fact, it is nearly everything I look for in a book. I actually watched the Japanese movie of this story before reading the book, but once I found out it was based on an English book I had to read it. I like nearly everything about this story except one or two things. First of all, I don’t like how demons are considered slightly friendly. I don’t think that can work. Secondly, Howl is from the real world in Wales, who just so happened to find Sophie’s world. I don’t like crossovers, but it’s not too horrible. They don’t spend too much time there. Overall, this story is a fun half-fantasy half-fairytale that is enjoyable to read. Because of the magic and demon themes, I would recommend this story for children 10 and older.