Monday, March 18, 2013
Book Review: Howl's Moving Castle
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Howl's Moving Castle follows Sophie Hatter, the eldest daughter of an old milliner. When her father dies, and her stepmother inherits the shop, Sophie's two sisters are apprenticed to separate businesses, leaving Sophie to take on the dull job of running the hat shop.
Sophie, being the oldest, considers herself unable to have adventures like her sisters do, and resigns herself to a life of boring hat-making, and likely spinsterhood. However, it seems that she is destined for a much more... interesting future. Sophie unwittingly incurs the jealousy of a powerful witch, and finds herself cursed to become an old woman before her time. Now, Sophie's only hope for release lies in the mysterious Wizard Howl. But this wizard may prove to be just as dangerous as the Witch of the Waste, if not more so...
This book is a delightful read, filled with memorable characters, hilarious circumstances, light romance, and clever plot devices. I enjoyed it so much that it has now become one of my favorite books! Dianna Wynne Jones uses a charming, refined and slightly antiquated story-telling style, which made it all the more lovable to me. While some younger readers, and even older readers might be put off by this, it adds so much character to the story.
There are very few, if any negative elements. Magic is a common element in the story, but it is innocent magic, not true witchcraft, as can be found in the real world. Some of the characters in the story are referred to as witches and wizards, but it is clear that these terms only mean those with magical ability.
A reference is made to using a pentagram during a spell- (the pentagram is a symbol associated with Wicca)- but in the story it does not have anything to do with the cult.
One character, Calcifer, is called a fire demon. However, the term 'demon' in this story does not even remotely resemble what we know to be real demons. The two are completely separate.
Overall, the story of Howl's Moving Castle is a very good book. The magical elements are innocent, the plot is well thought out, and the characters are spectacular. My personal favorites were Howl and Sophie- especially when they are together. (Read the book, and you'll find out why for yourself!) When I look at the mastery of the book, I find myself amazed that it didn't become popular until Hayao Miyazaki's film was released. This book is a classic as far as I'm concerned. I highly recommend it for any lover of fantasy.