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.
I actually watched the movie before I read this book, but it turned out that there are actually very few similarities between the book and the movie. BUT! This is one of the rare cases where I absolutely LOVE both versions.
Howl's Moving Castle is about an annoying, egotistical, vain, pompous, childish, caring, handsome, and brooding wizard.
Sounds great, right?
Yes. It actually is!
The story is told in third persona and focuses on Sophie Hatter's point of view. In this fairy tale, the oldest is the most unfortunate and doomed to a terrible life. Sophie, of course, is the oldest of three girls. Once she is put under the curse by the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finally decides to do something for herself. I found it quite humorous actually. The moment the curse turned her into an old women, she went hiking up a mountain determined to find a great destiny.
Only, what she found was the infamous Wizard Howl. And oh, what a destiny she got.
This book is a little slow and very discreet, but if you pay attention to the details, you can see the story building itself. Had I not been paying attention (and hadn't seen the movie) the ending would have caught me by surprise. (Good thing I loved the movie so much that I hung on to every detail in the book, despite the HUGE differences between the two).
Needless to say, I learned a lot more about Sophie and Howl by reading the book. All the words I used to describe Howl are just his mask. He is actually a good person, even if he likes to pretend he's not. Sophie is also ambitious, kind, loving, and caring, even if she doesn't think very highly of herself. She is a genuine person--which is something I love to find in my characters.
Not to mention Sophie's grumbling and sarcasm make for some great laughs.
If you have seen the movie, I'm sure you'll love the book too. Turns out this book is the first in a series! I didn't know that until I started reading. I was actually pretty excited to hear about this, because I feel in love with the characters and want to know more about their future.
If you like old-style, fairly-tale-like stories, I highly recommend this book. It was such a fun adventure!
I give this a 4 out of 5!