Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle, #1)Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This one was tough for me. I love he animated movie. Absolutely love it. The the characters are the same, and the overall story follows a similar pattern, the book and the movie are vastly different. In the movie, politics are the main reason Howl and Sophie end up trusting each other. In the book, there are no political motivations once so ever. And, the main character, Howl’s old teacher, has completely different personalities: in the movie she causes the political strife in order to try to manipulate Howl and in the book she loves Howl and would never betray him, let alone try to manipulate him.

However, once I decided to take them as two separate entities, I enjoyed Howl’s Moving Castle.

Sophie is the eldest daughter of a shopkeeper and therefore is expected to slave away in the shop’s back room once her father dies while her stepmother spends all the money (I know what you are thinking and this is no Cinderella tale…well not really anyway). Sophie’s two sisters are apprenticed out in order to get them out of the house leaving Sophie to be walked all over by her mother. When a chance encounter puts her between Howl and his arch-enemy the vile Witch of the Waste, the witch curses Sophie as an old lady.

Realizing she cannot stay how she is, Sophie heads to the wastes to find a way to undo the spell and start a new life. She ends up in Howl’s castle making a deal with his personal demon Calcifer (I can’t help but hear Billy Crystal’s voice for the character). Calcifer is trapped just as surely as Sophie is by a rotten curse of his own.

Howl takes his new house guest in stride and allows her to be his cleaning lady. All the while Howl is courting various women trying to snag the one woman he really loves. Howl is selfish and vain and he and Sophie clash constantly on their journey to defeat the witch and save each other from their curses.

This is a fun fantasy that shows the need for people to stand up for themselves and find their own way in the world.