Saturday 5 March 2011

HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE by Diana Wynne Jones

In the land of Ingary, where seven league boots and cloaks of invisibility do exist, Sophie Hatter catches the unwelcome attention of the Witch of the Waste and is put under a spell.

For once, I'm actually reading a book after watching the movie. Of course, the first time I watched this movie was a while ago, but still. I loved it so much that every now and then I think about it. Besides, Hayao Miyazaki rocks, and we've pretty much seen every movie he's ever made. He has an awesome imagination, and is able to sweep me off my feet with every one of his movies. Love 'em!

Anyway, let's get on with the book...

I expected the book to be different to the movie, and it is. Still, it has the same enchanted feel as the movie. Howl is still alluring, mysterious and kept me guessing, wanting to know more about him. Sophie is still innocent, lovely and kind-hearted. Michael's still loyal. Calcifer the fire demon was an amazing creation who keeps the castle moving. Actually, he also keeps it together.

Sophie Hatter lives in the land of Ingary and makes the most wonderful hats in the town of Market Chipping. She's also the eldest and has two sisters. After her father dies, her step-mother takes over the store and soon sends the two youngest sisters away to apprentice with other people (one in a bakery, the other with a witch) so there's no financial strain, but keeps Sophie in the hat shop. After all, she makes the best hats in town and the business is soon booming. But neither of Sophie's sisters are happy with their chosen fortunes and devise a plan in which they will be able to do what they really want to do, while encouraging Sophie to do the same.

Yet, it's not until the Witch of the Waste pays Sophie a visit and places a curse on her that Sophie's forced to find her own fortune. She might not know why the witch singled her out, but she's no longer a young girl. She's been transformed into an old woman who seeks out a place to belong. She just never expected that Howl's Moving Castle would be that place. Everyone knows Howl chases young girls to steal their hearts and souls. There are many other horrible tales about what the wizard does to young girls, but the more time she spends in the castle, the more she realises that he's something else.

She wants to stay a while and then move on, but with Michael and Calcifer--she made a deal with the fire demon in hopes of ending her curse--around, she soon finds herself a place in the world. Especially since Howl doesn't seem to mind either way if she lives there or not. Though her constant cleaning drives him crazy and makes for some really funny and entertaining scenes.

As the days go by, Sophie gets more involved in Howl's affairs, and much more connected to him than she ever expect to be... I loved the Castle and the interwoven story. I loved how both of Sophie's sisters are included in the story, and how everything comes undone for the wicked Witch.

I absolutely adored this book! This story is wonderful, exciting, and told in a way that totally hooked me from the very beginning. What an awesome story!

Oh, and because I enjoyed it so much, we also watched the movie afterwards. :)

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