Despite the popularity of the movie version of Howl’s Moving Castle, the book does not seem to get enough credit. Although the book and movie both share similar storylines, the book is an amazing piece of fiction on its own. The creation of the fantasy world of Ingary is imaginatively done, and the characters just keep you hooked for more! My only criticism is that the book was a tad slow-paced at times, especially in the last half of the book. However, this is a vibrant novel that is full of magic and adventure, and has all the makings of a classic. The following is a spoiler-free review.
Book Blurb: In the land of Ingary, where seven league boots and cloaks of invisibility do exist, Sophie Hatter catches the unwelcome attention of the Witch of the Waste and is put under a spell. Deciding she has nothing more to lose, she makes her way to the moving castle that hovers on the hills above Market Chipping. But the castle belongs to the dreaded Wizard Howl whose appetite, they say, is satisfied only by the souls of young girls… There she meets Michael, Howl’s apprentice, and Calcifer the Fire Demon, with whom she agrees a pact. But Sophie isn’t the only one under a curse – her entanglements with Calcifer, Howl, and Michael, and her quest to break her curse is both gripping – and howlingly funny!
The main character Sophie has all the makings of a true feminist heroine; she is a no-nonsense character with determination and grit. How believable is her character? Well, I don’t know many girls who wouldn’t freak out if they had just been turned into an old woman! But that doesn’t matter, because it is all set in a quaint fantasy world where Howl himself resides, whose reputation as a lady’s man is known far and wide. I found Howl to be obnoxious and shallow at first, but rather than make me dislike the book, it actually added value to it as it all just made sense in the end. You’ll understand if you read the book; Howl definitely has his redeeming features so don’t hate on him too soon.
I very much liked how the story was introduced, and the various oddities of the world. The moving scarecrow is particularly memorable as well as the castle itself (which isn’t pretty but is very functional). I would have liked it better if the novel got more to the point towards the end half of the book as it did tend to drag towards the end, but the ending was very good.