Book Review: Howl’s Moving Castle


“You’d done your worst with Calcifer and poor Michael. It stood to reason you’d descend on me today. And whatever Calcifer told you, I am a wizard, you know. Didn’t you think I could do magic?”

─ Diana Wynne Jones


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Book Information

Title: Howl’s Moving Castle

Author: Diana Wynne Jones

Publisher: Greenwillow Books an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers 2008

ISBN 978-0-06-147878-9

Genre: Fantasy Fiction

Ages: 8-12

Grades: 3 – 7

429 pages


Book Summary:

Destiny had played a cruel trick on Sophie, the oldest of three sisters she was fated to fail miserably in life no matter what she did. Or so she believed. Sophie believed this so strongly that she didn’t bother seeking her fortune or adventure despite how much she felt something was missing from her life.

Dull and boring Sophie mysteriously angers the Witch of the Waste, who transforms her into an old woman. Sophie leaves home in hopes of breaking the spell, turning to the unlikely fearsome Wizard Howl. The heartless wizard lives in an ever-moving castle in the hills. Once inside the castle Sophie makes a bargain with a fire demon, must deal with Howl and his apprentice, face the Witch of the Waste and other magical beings. Along the way Sophie makes some discoveries about Howl and herself. Primarily that things are not always what they seem.

Book Rating 3/5

Howl’s Moving Castle is a delightful tale following the character Sophie Hatter. Sophie has decided that she is dull, boring and destined to fail, all due to be the eldest of three sisters. Sophie accepted this belief so much as fact that she ignored her strengths and abilities.

Somehow Sophie angers the Witch of the Waste, who transforms her into an old woman. Initially, Sophie finds the transformation is a more honest reflection of who she really is. The spell ends up revealing that some truths about people aren’t always seen at first glance. People are not necessarily who they portray themselves as, and that includes Sophie too. Sometimes the one we hid the most from is ourselves.

My favorite component of Howl’s Moving Castle was the way that Diana Wynne Jones wrote the characters. Her characters are far from perfect. They depict both good and bad qualities. The main characters of Sophie and Howl are portrayed full of flaws and insecurities. These imperfections kept the story interesting as the reader can see how the characters change, make mistakes and work to resolve their problems. The characters change in the story, but still retain their flaws and accept they are not perfect.

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You may also enjoy:

The Hayao Miyazaki’s movie ─ Howl’s Moving Castle

Diana Wynne Jones other books in the World of Howl Collection:

Castle in the Air

House of Many Ways