Howl's Moving Castle

Howl's Moving Castle

Book - 2009
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Eldest of three sisters in a land where it is considered to be a misfortune, Sophie is resigned to her fate as a hat shop apprentice until a witch turns her into an old woman and she finds herself in the castle of the greatly feared wizard Howl.
Publisher: London :, HarperCollins Children's Books,, 2009
Copyright Date: ©1986
ISBN: 9780007299263
Branch Call Number: J JON
Characteristics: 301 pages : illustrations ; 20 cm
Additional Contributors: Stevens, Tim - Illustrator


From the critics

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Apr 25, 2019

This was so much like my reading experience with "Stardust." I saw "Stardust" the movie before reading the book. I love the movie. After seeing it I decided to read the book (especially since it's written by Neil Gaiman). The book was just okay, it had a lot of extra stuff that was not necessary. With "Howl's Moving Castle" I also saw the movie before reading the book. I would say the movie is better but the book is still a good read. I'm glad I finally picked it up!

Mar 24, 2019

Sophie Hatter knows she’s not cut out to be a heroine or have adventures: in the fairy-tale land of Ingary, the eldest sister is never destined for greatness. Instead, she is resigned to inherit her father and stepmother’s provincial hatshop while he sisters are apprenticed to sorceresses and popular merchants. When the Witch of the Waste, who has been threatening Ingary, invades the shop and curses Sophie into an old crone, Sophie must flee town. She takes refuge in the terrifying moving castle of the Wizard Howl, hoping he can remove her curse or that she can make a deal with his demon Calcifer to do so. As she lives in the castle, Sophie learns about who Howl and Calcifer really are—and that she and her siblings might be more magically entangled than she originally suspects.

While the premise might seem like a massive fairy tale cliché—unlikely, snarky heroine; mysterious, brooding wizard—Howl’s Moving Castle manages to turn all those on their head. Howl is a drama queen. Sophie invades the castle and appoints herself Howl’s cleaning lady with terrifying ferociousness. The final sorcerer’s battle is intense without being over-the-top. At the same time, the magical world of Ingary and the Moving Castle is beautifully described, with a magical system that’s complex and enchanting (no pun intended).

I’d argue that one of the most compelling aspects of the book is that it goes into detail and immerses the reader in the world, but the pacing can be slow. There’s not much of an overarching plot; instead, most of the conflicts are represented in episodic format. If you’re not a fan of world- and character-based stories, you might be disappointed.

Andrew Kyle Bacon
Sep 23, 2018

Like many before me, I came to this story first through the film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It's one of my favorites of his movies, so when I discovered the book I knew I had to read it. I didn't pick the book up immediately (I first saw the movie ten years ago, or so), but I'm glad I did. Overall, it's obvious why Miyazaki wanted to adapt the book: from page-to-page it features countless themes and stylistic flourishes perfect for the Ghibli-Miyazaki treatment.

Howl is frustrating and charming, Sophie is clever and independent, Calcifer is mischievous and caring, and Michael is childlike and helpful. None of the characters are particularly drawn very deeply in this book, but it's rather how the author, Jones, pulls them all together and consistently shows their interactions. At first there's a lot of tension between everyone except Sophie and Calcifer, but slowly, over the course of the whole novel, a familial relationship becomes very evident among those who live in the Castle.

The book just feels homey, and this quality is it's greatest charm.

It's not very complex at all, and some of the plot details are a tad bit underdeveloped. But overall the book is a huge success, and I can't wait to read the next two.

CMLibrary_akeller Mar 24, 2018

This was a reread for me and I still loved it as much as I used to. It's just a lot of fun and the characters are so enjoyable. Sophie, a young girl, gets turned into an old woman by a witch and sets off on an adventure which leads to the wizard Howl. She manages to find a way to stay with Howl until she can get her curse taking off her. She also meets Calcifer, a fire demon who is tied to Howl in some way. Sophie's interactions with Howl are hilarious and it's so much fun to read!

Library_Jill Feb 15, 2018

This is a deftly-woven classic young-adult fantasy, where the many threads that make up the story are carried along--often subtly--throughout the narrative, until they reveal the whole picture only at the end of the book. I have been a fan of Wynne-Jones for many years, and--like others--I love the Miyazaki movie, but I had never actually read this book. I was surprised at how different the two actually ended up being, but I love the original story just as much as I love the re-imagined story of the movie.

Jan 09, 2018

A young girl is cursed by the local witch simply for standing in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now in the creaking body of a 90-year-old woman, Sophie opts not to go home, since no one would recognize her anyway, but to leave town to seek employment in the strange, wandering castle of the Wizard Howl. A host of amusing and downright bizarre adventures ensue in this smart and fresh work of fantasy. I'm now eager to see the animated Miyazaki film as well.

LPL_KimberlyL Dec 21, 2017

This book is a treat to read! Howl's Moving Castle is one of my favorite Miyazaki films, and my only gripe is that I waited so long to read the book the film was based on. Sophie is a hilarious main character - she is cursed by a witch and becomes an old woman, something Sophie just immediately adapts to because it allows her to be as grouchy and nosy as she wants. The book is so much fun and is filled with unique magic and clever wordplay. Read this ASAP.

Jun 27, 2017

Though the original book is pretty good, I found Miyazaki's version is more captivating. I have watched the movie several times while I've never revisited the book.

LPL_FisherA Feb 07, 2017

This is one of my all time favorite books from my childhood since I am a massive Diana Wynne Jones fan. I recently decided to revisit it since I've been on a bit of a Miyazaki binge, and I found that I loved it even more than I remembered. The basic story follows Sophie, the eldest of three daughters, who accidentally upsets the vindictive Witch of the Waste who then curses Sophie to become a 90 year old woman. Sophie sets out to seek her fortune and finds herself embroiled with wizards and fire demons all while trying to reverse the curse. Diana Wynne Jones is the queen of world building and character development, as part of what makes you become so enamored with this series is the relatability and practicality of the protagonist Sophie. Howl's Moving Castle is fantasy escapism at its finest, and is the perfect book to read if you need to get away from the real world. I think that the book is much better than the film, so, like other comments, I recommend watching the movie first so it doesn't diminish your opinion of the adaptation. Seriously, this is one of the best books I've ever read.

Jan 16, 2017

I was spoiled by having seen the animated movie first - and the book pales by comparison. It is still a fine book - but the movie has a much better plot and defined characters. I much prefer Miyazaki's interpretation.

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Jan 18, 2018

Ewang348 thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

Apr 06, 2017

Sabinlerose thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Feb 26, 2017

fadisi thinks this title is suitable for 8 years and over

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Jul 07, 2014

joycemas thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 8 and 12

Feb 12, 2013

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Add a Quote
Apr 22, 2019

"Yes, you are nosy" said Howl. "you're a dreadfully nosy, horribly bossy, appallingly clean old woman. control yourself. you're victimizing us all."

Apr 22, 2019

,she set off like an elderly avenging angel to clean Howl's bedroom.

Jan 27, 2014

"Despair!" he yelled. "Anguish! Horror!" ~ Howl on his hair, pg 116

Jan 27, 2014

"It's just a tantrum," Sophie said. Martha and Lettie were good at having tantrums too. She knew how to deal with those. On the other hand, it is quite a risk to spank a wizard for getting hysterical about his hair. ~ pg 122

Aug 19, 2013

"We've had lawsuits, and suitors with swords, and mothers with rolling pins, and fathers and uncles with cudgels. And aunts. Aunts are terrible. They go for you with hat pins."


Add a Summary
Jul 07, 2014

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.

Jun 06, 2014

Sophie, the eldest daughter of a hatter lives in Market Chipping. One day, a mysterious costumer enters the shop. She doesn't like what she sees and turns Sophie into an old women of ninety. Sophie, whose father had recently passed away, wanted to go out and seek her fortune (and get this dreadful spell removed). So she set off on a gran old adventure full of magic, wizards, witches, demons, spells. Read Howl's Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones to find out just how active a ninety year old can be when they set their mind to it.


Add Notices
Mar 22, 2013

Coarse Language: Howl ejaculates "Hell's Teeth!", "Great Gods Above!", and "Damnation!" once each. Michael is mentioned swearing and Sophie angrily saying a bad word, but the words are not put in print. Calcifer says "Curses!"

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