Howl’s Moving Castle (World of Howl #1) ★★★★★

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Title: Howl’s Moving Castle
Series: World of Howl #1
Author: Diana Jones
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Pages: 206
Words: 76K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

18-year-old Sophie Hatter is the eldest of three sisters living in Market Chipping, a town in the magical kingdom of Ingary, where fairytale tropes are accepted ways of life, including that the eldest of three will never be successful. As the eldest, Sophie is resigned to a dull future running the family hat shop. Unknown to her, she is able to talk life into objects. Things change however when the powerful Witch of the Waste turns her into an old crone. Sophie leaves the shop and finds work as a cleaning lady for the notorious Wizard Howl. She strikes a bargain with Howl’s fire-demon, Calcifer: if she can break the contract between Howl and Calcifer, then Calcifer will return her to her original youthful form. Part of the contract, however, stipulates that neither Howl nor Calcifer can disclose the main clause, leaving Sophie to figure it out on her own.

Sophie learns that Howl, a rather self-absorbed and fickle but ultimately good-natured person, spreads malicious rumours about himself to avoid work and responsibility. The door to his castle is actually a portal that opens onto four places: Market Chipping, the seaside city of Porthaven, the royal capital of Kingsbury and Howl’s boyhood home in Wales, where he was named Howell Jenkins. Howl’s apprentice Michael Fisher runs most of the day-to-day affairs of Howl’s business, while Howl chases his ever-changing paramours.

When Prince Justin, the King’s younger brother, goes missing while searching for Wizard Suliman, the King orders Howl to find them both and kill the Witch of the Waste. Howl, however, has his own reasons to avoid the Witch; the Witch, a jilted former lover, has laid a dark curse on him. He successfully continues to avoid her until she lures Sophie into a trap. Believing the Witch has taken Howl’s current love interest, Miss Angorian, Sophie goes to save her and is captured by the Witch. Howl spends hours in the bathroom everyday primping himself to look handsome for girls; Michael had said that the day he does not do this is the day Michael will believe that Howl is truly in love. So when Howl comes to save Sophie, unshaven and a mess, it demonstrates his love for her. He kills the Witch and reveals that Miss Angorian was actually the Witch’s fire demon in disguise; the fire demon had taken control of the Witch and was attempting to create a “perfect human” by fusing Wizard Suliman and Prince Justin. It was to be completed by the addition of Howl’s head.

At the castle, Miss Angorian takes hold of Calcifer to capture Howl’s heart. Howl had given his heart to Calcifer. This was the contract between them; the heart kept Calcifer alive, and in return Calcifer put his magic at Howl’s disposal. Sophie uses her ability of bringing things to life to free Calcifer, thus breaking the contract between him and Howl. With his heart restored, Howl destroys the witch’s fire demon, freeing Suliman and Justin. Calcifer, as promised, breaks Sophie’s spell and she returns to her proper age. Howl had realized early on that Sophie was under a spell and secretly attempted to remove the curse; when he had met with failure, he’d figured Sophie simply enjoyed “being in disguise”.

Calcifer returns, preferring to stay with Howl. Sophie and Howl admit they love each other when Howl suggests they live happily ever after.

My Thoughts:

When I read Howl’s Moving Castle back in ’08, I only gave it 3 stars. I had enjoyed it, but wanted something a bit “more”. This time around, the light fluffiness hit the exact spot and this rocketed up to a favorable 5 stars. Which means that this is definitely a mood book and depending on how I’m feeling while reading it is going to affect how I rate it. So that might happen to others as well.

But my goodness, this was just delightful. As Mrs B might say on occasion “totes adorb”. This is definitely middle grade edging into ya territory but not once did I feel that Jones was dumbing things down or simplifying. I think is a story that a 5th grader could enjoy as much as a 40 year old (or older).

Part of it is that Sophie is a completely solid, dependable young woman but who has her blindspot. It was so interesting to see how she would be blind sided by something and I could relate exactly. The other part is that Jones introduces a lot of side characters but I was not confused about who was who or who was what at any point. Every single character was them and they slotted into the story perfectly and stuck in my head. That is how characters should be!

Delightfully light, thoroughly satisfying, wondrously fun; that about sums up my experience this time around while reading this book. I had so much fun that I’m going to be breaking my own rule and reading the next 2 books in the Howl’s World series much closer together (weeks instead of months). I hope I’m not making a mistake!

Ps, this is the first post where I’m experimenting with using google drive to host the cover pix. I have to use a stupid “iframe” and can’t get the info block of text to align around it. If you know how to do that or if anything comes up wonky or if there anything you think I should be aware of, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. Thanks!

★★★★★

42 thoughts on “Howl’s Moving Castle (World of Howl #1) ★★★★★

  1. Ola G says:

    I also find this novel adorable! It’s a great light read, and the characters are indeed incredibly tangible and fully fleshed-out! Have you seen the movie?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. No, it’s only the opinions that come out wonky! haha! No, in all seriousness, this is an awesome book, and a real shame that the film junked so much of the second half of the narrative, which is much more intimate and charming in the book. We can agree on this being a classic! Calcifer is cool!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bookstooge says:

      See, I liked the film a lot too. I think MIyazaki was very up front about his movie being more of an “adaptation” than a faithful translation.

      That being said, I still like the book more 😀 and whole heartedly agree that it is a classic.

      And googledrive just isn’t working for me. I think I have a couple more reviews using it and then it’ll be back to dropbox and then eventually back to wordpress, for hosting pix.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. savageddt says:

    Milou and I watch the film sometime this year. It was definately my kind of anime. loved the world and all things in it. Great review mate.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. raistlin0903 says:

    I have only seen the film which I loved, and honestly I didn’t even know that there was also a book😊 Needless to say I’m going to be ordering this one sometime soon.
    It’s sometimes interesting to see how much a mood can change your opinion on something. I’ve had that happen with movies as well😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Raven says:

    I knew the story from the Studio Ghibli’s movie, but after what you said I will probably also read the book

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Darren Jones says:

    Jones has written some really wonderful books! This one’s great, and I loved “Dark Lord of Derkholm” too.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love this book! (Also the Ghibli film.) I own book 2 in the series but haven’t read it yet. I hope to get to it soon, but I’ve been saying that for a year now, so…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Zezee says:

    I haven’t read this yet, but I really want to. I’ll have to pick it up when I’m in the mood for it then so I give it a fair chance.
    As for the pic of the book, I had to refresh the page to see it. There was an error at first but I forgot what it said. Once I refreshed the page, it was okay, so my the prob was on my side.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bookstooge says:

      It is a wonderful book, so if you can squeeze it into your tbr, I HIGHLY recommend it. And since it is middle grade, it is short and won’t be a big commitment.

      Thanks for the heads up about the pix. I’ve pretty much given up trying to use G-drive to host my pix, as I’ve got a system using dropbox now. Oh, the things we’ll do when trying to save a penny!

      Like

  9. HCNewton says:

    Not sure I was aware this was a novel before, looks like fun…I should check it out!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. While reading your synopsis of this delightful story I kept thinking that it was the kind of fairy tale for all ages, and your later comment confirmed that I might very well enjoy it as a welcome lighter read between some grimmer tomes… 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. bormgans says:

    Didn’t know the movie was based on a book. I’ve been a fan since I saw Spirited Away in theatre while I was on a trip in London. This one goes on the TBR list as well.

    Btw, the pic looks good on the phone app, but it always has an arrow icon hovering above it.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Good luck with the next two Howl books. I actually liked them better than the first one! (Miyazaki’s movie spoiled me so bad…. 😁) Looking forward to their upcoming reviews!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’ve only seen the movie last year and really enjoyed it like many do. I look forward to trying out the book someday though. It sounds like a lovely and adorable book in between books with blood, chaos, insanity, and loads of.. nihilism? 😀 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  14. A lot of adults seem to enjoy her work though I’ve never tried any myself. Hope you are doing ok…I’ve had more issues with Blogger and I’m at the end of my patience really!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. haha I’d definitely describe this as “tots adorbs!” too! Glad this hit the spot!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. […] Howl’s Moving Castle – 5 Stars of Awesomesauce […]

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