Saturday, February 2, 2013

Howl's Moving Castle: A Book Review

There are NO SPOILERS in this review. Enjoy! (:

Book review #5 of 2013!

I love all of Miyazaki's films. So I was amazed to discover last year that Howl's Moving Castle was actually an adaptation of Diana Wynne Jones' novel.  My friend lent me his copy and the rest, as cliche as it sounds and is, is history. If your read my post on my Favorite Reads of 2012 then you probably remember that I listed Howl's Moving Castle as one of my favorite reads. So it won't be so much of a surprise when you hear all my raving comments below. I hope you enjoy this review! (:

As usual here's the back cover description:

"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 sell 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 the 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."

I honestly haven't watched Howl's Moving Castle in years, so my comments comparing the two will be sparse. That may be for the best anyway since I would rather not spoil anything for those who haven't seen the movie either.

As I mentioned numerous times before, I adore books that transfer protagonists living redundant lives into new exciting environments. And though Sophie's ordinary world does encompass the world of the witches and wizard's, Sophie's life is less than satisfying. Books such as these almost always win me over. The kid in me that wished to fall through a rabbit hole or to find a second world in my wardrobe can never get enough. With that said, I think Howl's Moving Castle still offers a very unique plot. Reading as Sophie acclimated herself to the Howl's castle offered that element of enchanting mystery that I crave.

If there's one comparison I have between the novel and the film, its how much more detail you get about Sophie in the written form. Her character is much more fleshed out and you can relate to her feeling of obligation to family and duties much better than you get in the film. Also, from what I recall of the film, you also get a closer look at Sophie's family, particularly with her sisters. All those details I very much enjoyed.

Howl's character I thought was also nicely done. In comparison to what I can remember of the movie, Howl is much more frightening in the novel, especially when there is an incident that highlights his vanity. (;

As a team, I think Sophie, Michael, Calcifer and Howl had a very fun dynamic. I loved reading how they interacted with one another.

I honestly thought the novel could have went on for at least another chapter, as the ending was very abrupt, but I'm mostly satisfied with Diana Wynne Jones decided to end it.

I enjoyed this novel a lot. I would even venture to use the word love. I know for a fact that sixth/seventh grade Stephanie would have loved it too. (And I can say that as a fact because sixth/seventh grade Stephanie still very much exists in present-day Stephanie). It was a fun read and very hard to put down, which is how it ended up on my list of Favorite Reads of 2012.

To those who have seen the movie and wonder if they would still enjoy the book, I understand your predicament and would certainly recommend you go ahead and read it. It offers levels the film doesn't, because as usual, film adaptations never match the film exactly. Sometimes that really bothers me. And though this book did have quite a few differences from the film, it is debatable which is "better," and can lead to discussions on why Miyazaki changed what he did.

I will definitely be reading Castle In the Air and House of Many Ways (both also by Diana Wynne Jones).

Lastly, unrelated to Howl's Moving Castle, I wanted to mention that I will be doubling up on book reviews for the month of February. There are so many I want to get out and so little time. So just for this month, I think I will be doing 2 a week to see if I can get caught up. (:


  1. You read this too? :) Patdy briefly mentioned she was reading it. I can't really remember all my thoughts on my own review, but I compared it a lot to the movie.

    Basically I think I loved the beginning of the book more, but around the halfway point of the book, I preferred the ending of the movie.

    I also like "down the rabbit hole" type of stories :D

    1. I read it last year but just got around to reviewing it, which is why details are a little lacking. If you like "down the rabbit hole" books I'd recommend The Girl Who Circumnaviagted Fairyland series (there's only two out at the moment, and a short story).

    2. I saw your review on The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland :) I'll see if I can find it at the library.