Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Perhaps you've seen the movie by Miyasaki. If you have, will you believe me if I say that the novel is even better? That's no small feat either, since Howl's Moving Castle is my absolute favourite Miyasaki movie. If you have seen the movie you will notice many similarities when reading the book. However, there are some points that I feel clarifies the story somewhat, and others that simply help make the story reach even higher levels of awesomeness (yes, it's a word).

The protagonist, Sophie, is a shy, oldest sister of three who knows that she is destined for misfortune in life. She hides in a back room of her father's hat shop, making the most beautiful hats that her stephmother sells. One day, the Witch of the Waste wants to buy a hat, and Sophie fails miserably at her job. The Witch turns her into an old woman, and
Sophie runs away from the shop to find a way to cast off the curse. In her search she ends up as a cleaning lady to the feared wizard Howl who eats young women's hearts for breakfast. She also strikes a bargain with a fire demon, is followed by a mad scarecrow and travels using seven-league boots.

Jones' novel isn't serious, deep fantasy. It's enjoyable, funny (sometimes uttely hilarious) fantasy - i.e. just what fantasy should be! I have heard it rumoured that both Howl and Sophie make an appearance in Jones' Castle in the Sky which is currently sitting on my nightstand, waiting to be read. I will get back to you with a report if this is actaully true or not.

If you like fantasy at all you really need to read this. In fact, I'll go so far as to promise you a cookie if you do! Let me know if you liked it and I'll pop a cookie in the mail immediately. Toodles!

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