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On My Bookshelf: Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Harper Collins 2009 edition

(first published 1986 by Methuen Children's Books)

I have arrived very late to this party. In fact, I’ve missed several invitations along the way, including lots of different editions and an animated movie by Studio Ghibli. Of course, I knew of the author, and have loved several of her books before, but, somehow, I had never met Howl and his castle, until it was recommended by a trusted bookseller a little while back and almost promptly forgotten until I was poring over an online catalogue, spotted the title and thought, ‘why not?’

I loved reading this book with all its glorious descriptions, colourful characters, and magical adventure, where Sophie, cursed by the wicked Witch of the Waste, ventures away from her home to find help from the dreaded Wizard Howl, reputed to be quite as evil as the witch, and becomes part of the story of the Moving Castle, with its doors to many places.

As well as Sophie, there are her sisters and stepmother, a wizard’s apprentice, a fire demon, another fire demon, a man-dog, a scarecrow, a King and a missing Prince,, another (also missing) wizard, a very ordinary family, and of course, Wizard Howl and the Witch of the Waste!

And a lot of misunderstandings and bad tempers! Occasionally involving green slime...

And then there is the most delightfully drab final line, ‘Besides, it’s raining out there…’ which is also the perfect last line for this particular story, which really rides around the characters and their personalities.

Howl’s Moving Castle is a delight of humour and wit, a fantasy story based in a world where wizards and witches and seven league boots are just part of the scenery, cleverly concocted and easy to read.

If, like me (until now), you haven’t yet read this book, do. It is a great read.


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