Review: Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl’s Moving Castle #1) by Diana Wynne Jones

February 11, 2014 2014 Read & Review, 2014 Reading Challenge - Review, 4.5 Stars, Comedy Fantasy, damsel in distress, Fantasy, Flights of Fantasy, paperback, prickly pear heroine, series, spunky spitfire heroine, YA/MG 0 ★★★★½

Review: Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl’s Moving Castle #1) by Diana Wynne Jones four-half-stars
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Series: Howl’s Moving Castle #1
Published by Greenwillow Books on April 14, 1986
Genres: Comedy, Fantasy
Pages: 212
Format: Hardcover
Buy at Amazon
In the land of Ingary, such things as spells, invisible cloaks, and seven-league boots were everyday things. The Witch of the Waste was another matter.

After fifty years of quiet, it was rumored that the Witch was about to terrorize the country again. So when a moving black castle, blowing dark smoke from its four thin turrets, appeared on the horizon, everyone thought it was the Witch. The castle, however, belonged to Wizard Howl, who, it was said, liked to suck the souls of young girls.

The Hatter sisters--Sophie, Lettie, and Martha--and all the other girls were warned not to venture into the streets alone. But that was only the beginning.

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.

In this giant jigsaw puzzle of a fantasy, people and things are never quite what they seem. Destinies are intertwined, identities exchanged, lovers confused. The Witch has placed a spell on Howl. Does the clue to breaking it lie in a famous poem? And what will happen to Sophie Hatter when she enters Howl's castle?

Diana Wynne Jones's entrancing fantasy is filled with surprises at every turn, but when the final stormy duel between the Witch and the Wizard is finished, all the pieces fall magically into place.

I’ve heard of this book (and Diana Wynne Jones) before but I’d never read any of her work. Jones was on Mt. TBR but I pushed Howl’s Moving Castle up because it was picked to be a book club group read.


I really loved this book. It’s a quite the page turner. I loved it so much that I purchased a copy asap (the copy I originally read is a library loan).

Howl’s Moving Castle was one of those reads where I didn’t take any notes and I didn’t have any concerns – I just got pissy when I had to stop reading. 😀

Howl’s Moving Castle starts with an introduction to the main character: Sophie. Sophie is so convinced that she will never amount to anything (being the eldest of three sisters) that nothing can change her mind. This idea of worthlessness was so strong that Sophie could not see her own abilities and strengths. While the reader is easily able to see how great Sophie is, Sophie doesn’t realize her worth til the end of the book. I feel that Sophie is a great character! So many people – old and young alike – believe that they are less than just like Sophie, making her a very easy character to relate to. I loved being in Sophie’s head.

Howl’s Moving Castle is also about judgement and first impressions: Sophie judges herself as less than her siblings; she judges Howl based on rumors and she even judges her stepmother with very little reason. In each of these situations (and many others) Sophie is wrong because she based her impressions on snap judgements and rumors. Sophie underestimated…everyone (including especially herself).

This book seems so light but there are some lessons inside. What makes this book wonderful is the pure joy that almost leaps off the page. Jones must have had a wonderful time writing this book: it feels (to me) the same way it sounds when someone is smiling on the phone: you can’t see it but somehow you know it’s there.

There is very little I can complain about in this book – it’s so close to five stars that…I think I might just round it up from 4.5 to 5 stars. The only concerns I had was the ending: some of the things that happened were unexpected and a little abrupt. Other than that, it was a wonderful ride and I’m now sick that I haven’t read this sooner. I also see a gift for my mom… 😀

No Responses to “Review: Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl’s Moving Castle #1) by Diana Wynne Jones”

  1. Olga Godim

    I must read this book. I read some other of Jones’s novels – they are uneven; some great, others so-so. But I watched the Japanese anime feature based on this book, and it was wonderful.

    • MrsJoseph

      I’ve really got to see this movie! Everyone says it’s wonderful.

      This was my first Wynne-Jones but I bought another book of hers based off of this read. LOVED IT.

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