Friday, April 26, 2013
Howl's Moving Castle
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When an evil Witch transforms Sophie into an old woman, the meek shop girl finds that old age becomes her. To find a way to break the curse, Sophie hires herself as a cleaning lady for the Wizard Howl, a rogue who has a reputation for stealing hearts.
This is one of my favorite fantasy novels by one of my favorite fantasy writers. Sophie is hilariously liberated by being an old woman instead of a young one, and finds she has more power than she knew. Howl is an irresistible leading man - even his vanity is somehow appealing. The supporting characters are lovable, too, from the fire demon Calcifer to the wizard apprentice Michael. Almost everyone in the story is cursed or in disguise, and all these secrets lead to a chaotic and rapid denouement.
There are several sequels, including Castle in the Air and House of Many Ways, but they only have cameos by Howl and Sophie. For more of a character who is every bit as charming as Howl, try the Chrestomanci series. Chrestomanci is an incredibly powerful magician who is also something of a dandy. (Try Charmed Life first, it's wonderful.)
I can’t end without mentioning the gorgeous animated adaptation of Howl's Moving Castle by director Hayao Miyazaki, which is one of my all-time favorite films. It's true to the spirit of the book, and has a magic of its own.