Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

 

TweenFantasy Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne JonesHowl’s Moving CastleDiana Wynne Jones; Eos 2008WorldCatHowl’s Moving Castle is another one of those wonderful novels I missed while raising babies and being a working mother 25 years ago. It is written for older children, can be read to younger ones, and is a delight to a reader of any age.

Sophie knows she is going to have a dull, boring life. She is the eldest of three. It’s the youngest who will go on adventures. It’s the middle child who will be placed somewhere else. The eldest stays at home and inherits the family business. When her father dies, that’s exactly what happens to Sophie. She’s barely 18, but her stepmother starts grooming Sophie to take over the hat shop in the village. Soon Sophie never leaves the shop. Her middle sister, Lettie, works at the bakery and is courted by all the men in town. Her youngest sister, Martha, is apprenticed to a witch and a a bright future ahead.

When the Witch of the Wastelands enters the hat shop, Sophie’s life takes a nasty turn. The Witch turns her into an old woman. Rather than face everyone, Sophie runs…er hobbles… away from the village where she has lived all her life. She forces herself into the local wizard’s castle. Howl, the youngish wizard, protests but never puts her out. She makes herself useful by cleaning the castle and making a deal with the castle demon. She can’t tell anyone she is under a spell and has to stay an old woman.

Howl seems to be an irresponsible young man. He spends his time courting women. Rumor is that he then eats their souls and keeps their hearts. He goes out to charm them, then once he has achieved his goal, he moves on to the next. When Sophie learns her sister Lettie is his current interest, she decides to do something about his ways.

The castle is a major character of the book in itself even though it isn’t alive. The demon keeps it moving around. The only door opens to four different cities or countries. Sophie isn’t sure Howl really has powers. It seems that the demon and his “apprentice” do most of the work. He is always out charming another woman – though different portals of the door.

Howl’s Moving Castle is a magical fantasy novel for children. All is not as it seems. There are layers that aren’t seen until Diana Wynne Jones is ready for the reader to discover them. Each one gives another surprise and depth to this simple novel. She gives a simple telling to what is a complex story. Jones’ book stand well over time and continues to delight young and old readers alike. I’m sorry I hadn’t found this novel when my daughters were young. It would have been great to read aloud to them. Perhaps I should read it to my granddaughters instead…

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