Thursday, December 15, 2005

Howl's Moving Castle - Diana Wynne Jones

Here I go again - reviewing another Diana Wynne Jones book ! Howl's Moving Castle was recently made into an animated film and now I'm quite desperate to see it, but unfortunately it's not out in the UK until next March (probably because the film didn't open here until September anyway). However, I enjoyed the book - Sophie is an interesting character, convinced that because she is the eldest born of three children, she has no hope of making her fortune, because everyone in Ingary knows that the eldest of three children will fail at whatever they set out to do. It appears that everyone is correct when the Witch of the Waste puts Sophie under a spell, after mistaking Sophie for one of her other sisters. Convinced that she now has nothing to lose, she approaches Howl's moving castle. The Wizard Howl is known to a wicked sorcerer who steals girls' hearts and eats them. However, Wynne Jones delights in turning beliefs upside down, and neither Sophie's fortune or the truth about Howl turns out to be what everyone believes or expects.

I have to confess I love the idea of the moving castle with a magical door that, according to which way the knob above it is turned, opens onto different places, one of which is Wales, where Howl has a sister, a nephew and a niece ! I am also intrigued by the idea of the Fire Demon, Calcifer, who is responsible for providing the motive power for the castle, who has to be persuaded to bend down his head so that meals can be cooked, and has entered into a pact with Howl which some of Howl's friends are convinced is bad for both Howl and Calcifer.

Howl's young apprentice Michael is a nice lad, far nicer than you might expect, having Howl for a Master (he often spends 2 or 3 hours in the bathroom before going out - I know women (me included) who spend less time than that on getting ready to go out !) Sophie's sisters are nice, if rather headstrong, girls, and Sophie's stepmother Fanny breaks the tradition of stepmothers everywhere taking advantage of their step-daughters.


Mrs. Coulter said...

Wait for the movie to be available on DVD, so you can watch it with the original Japanese voice-acting. My experience is that English-language voice-acting tends not to be as good as Japanese, plus the characterizations can be very different (such as in Princess Monoke). DWJ and Miyazaki: two great tastes that taste great together.

Michele said...

Well the movie came out at the cinema in September, so I've no choice but to wait for the DVD version - but March seems a long way off at the moment (probably because Xmas and my Tolkien deadline are looming so close !)

I heard yesterday that Studio Ghibli which did Howl's Moving Castle are going to be doing a favourite series of mine - The Earthsea Series. I sincerely hope they do a better job than the travesty that was perpetrated by - although it's hard to see how it could be worse !

Mrs. Coulter said...


Are they doing the complete trilogy?

FYI, one of my first posts on RoH was about the travesty of the SciFi channel version. Hello, all the characters are BLACK!

Michele said...

Details are unclear at the moment, but I was sent the following two links (which I've made Tiny as they'll break across the page otherwise) for more information:
The announcement from the Anime News Network:
Updates will be posted at