‘Howl’s Moving Castle’: a very surprising reading experience

May 26, 2023

TITLE: Howl’s Moving Castle
AUTHOR: Diana Wynne Jones
GENRE: Fantasy
PAGES: 329pg
PUBLISHER: Harper Trophy

Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.

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DNF @ 30%

I’m very sad to say that this is NOT the book for me, despite — or, more likely, because of — the film being one of my favorite films of all time. I’d been told by so many people over the years that the book and film are very different stories, and that’s true, but that’s why this isn’t working for me.

I think the biggest struggle I’m having is the fact that Howl/Sophie is one of my favorite OTPs ever, and I went into this book hoping for more of the instant chemistry between them that we see in the film; instead, they’ve barely interacted at this point and most of the character development surrounding Howl has just been discussions of how he constantly falls in and out of love with other women (which honestly makes it VERY difficult to imagine the two of them having any longevity in the end, given how he has a long streak of falling out of love as soon as the feelings are reciprocated).

If you’re going into Howl’s Moving Castle for the whimsy and fantasy, I’d give the book a try, but if you’re like me and primarily love the film’s romance, I’d avoid the source material. As much as it disappoints me to DNF this, I have mostly hated this book so far and can’t foresee it redeeming itself enough to be worth how grumpy it’s making me. 😅

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