Review: Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl’s Moving Castle #1)
Diana Wynne Jones
Greenwillow Books
Published August 1, 2001 (Originally published 1986)

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About Howl’s Moving Castle

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.

Howl's Moving Castle on Goodreads

My Review

HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE is the first book by Diana Wynne Jones that I’ve ever read. I think that’s weird, considering how popular her books are and how much I read as a kid, but there you go. First time for everything, I guess.

I wasn’t sure whether I would like this book or not when I first started it. I felt like the author was kind of making jokes about fantasy as a genre, and I wasn’t always sure I was in on them? For instance, Sophie worries about being the eldest of three sisters, because it means there’s no likelihood that anything magical or amazing will happen to her. I wasn’t sure if that was something that was particular to her world or a joke about fairytales?

Anyway, once the witch cursed Sophie and she ran away, I got a lot more invested in the story. She’s smart and loyal, and I loved her from the first moment she rescued the dog stuck in the hedge.

I also thought it was clever to tell the story from the perspective of a girl under a curse that makes her look like an old woman. Normally I’m not a fan of children’s books written from the point-of-view of an adult, but Sophie wasn’t really an adult… she just looked like one. Which was an interested juxtaposition.

All the way through the book, new pieces get added to the mystery of Sophie’s curse and the story of Howl and why he is what Sophie terms, “a slitherer-outer”. I loved the book, and really want to read more stories by Diana Wynne Jones.

Howl's Moving Castle on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.

Major characters are white.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used very infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
References to Howl falling in love with lots of women and trying to make them fall in love with him.

Spiritual Content
Some characters use magic. Sophie is cursed by the Witch of the Waste. Howl has a contract with a fire demon.

Violent Content
Situations of peril.

Drug Content
Howl comes home drunk one night.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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