Title: Howl’s Moving Castle
Author: Dianna Jones
This magical story revolves around Sophie Hatter, a young woman cursed by a wicked witch that transforms her into an elderly lady. With nothing to lose and reservations cast aside, Sophie leaves her mundane life behind in search of her fortune. After having a bad night out in the world, Sophie seeks refuge in the mysterious moving castle belonging to the enigmatic wizard Howl. But as she settles into the peculiar home, she discovers that there is more to Howl than the rumors would have you believe and nothing is as it seems.
The author’s world building is wonderfully imaginative, weaving together elements of steampunk, fairy tale, and coming-of-age themes to create a world that captivates both young and old alike. She created a world where a moving castle and a hopping scarecrow themselves become characters with vivid personalities.
The characters are richly developed with quirks and complexities. Sophie, who is initially a timid girl, finds herself being fiercely stubborn, daring and outspoken when faced with the unique challenges of her new life in the castle. Howl, who is outwardly charismatic and charming, hides deep insecurities. He is outwardly thought to be superficial and vain but is found to care a lot about the people close to him. The dynamic between the two and their banter is engaging, sweet and often humorous. It leaves you yearning for more depth. Hence, one minor criticism I had in this regard is that more time could have been spent on the interactions between Sophie and Howl, and showing more of their feelings towards each other. In this regard, perhaps their interactions are almost too subtle. Although I also loved the subtleties of their sweet romance.
The plot is filled with fun events, mystery and character development to engage the reader’s interest throughout. The story just flows and is easy to read, with a series of twists and turns which all come to a satisfying end. Once again, some plot points might feel slightly rushed, leaving the reader yearning for more.
I found the writer’s style most refreshing and sophisticated. She weaves subtle clues throughout the story that all connect in the end. Her writing style makes the story feel organic and cozy, even with all the strangeness going on in the story!
Combined with the delightfully quirky and multidimensional characters, the imaginative world and events, this proved to be an amazing read! A book where my only complaint is that there needed to be more of certain aspects is, of course, highly recommended!
Here are some notable tropes present in the novel, incorporated skillfully within the story, adding to the charm and appeal of the book.
- Cursed Protagonist
Sophie is cursed by a wicked witch that forms the inciting incident of the story.
- Magical Artifact
There are multiple magical artifacts in the story but a major one is the titular Howl’s Moving Castle itself.
- The Power of Love
The story emphasizes that love can break curses and heal wounds.
- Talking Objects
The magical artifacts and objects exhibit sentience and personality, including the castle and a scarecrow.
- The Reluctant Hero
Howl has a reputation for being vain and reluctant to take on heroic responsibilities, or so it seems…
If you’re looking for something to record your thoughts and reflections as you read this book, may I suggest this “Bewitched Bookworm” reading junk journal!