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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Howl's Moving Castle Book/Movie

I can’t believe I posted an introductory post on this website and then promptly forgot about its existence! I’ll do my best to remedy this mistake with a few book reviews. Just a warning though: most of my reviews will probably be YA (Young Adult) books because that is what I read most frequently. It’s not that I don’t enjoy adult literature, it’s just that YA books have a slightly different taste to them that I find more appealing. I’ll be reviewing the book, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. I discovered this book after watching Hayao Miyazaki’s movie adaptation. If you can, I would recommend watching the movie as well as reading the book, because they both have their own unique value. However I would also advise you not to judge either version by the one you watched/read before it (i.e. don’t judge the book by the movie, don’t judge the movie by the book) because they are too dissimilar to enjoy that way. Anyway, on with the review!

*Spoiler Alert*

The book starts out by introducing the character Sophie Hatter who is the eldest of three sisters. Apparently this is a bad omen, and dooms her to always fail in her endeavors. When her father dies, Sophie’s stepmother Lettie has to decide which two sisters to send out as apprentices and which one she can afford to keep as a worker in the family’s hat shop. All three sisters know that the apprenticeships are superior to staying in the old hat shop, and in the end Lettie decides to keep Sophie. Sophie doesn’t mind getting the worst end of the deal because she knows that of all three sisters, the other two would have better chances of success out in the real world. Months pass and Sophie beings to become restless, and yet afraid to leave the hat shop. In her loneliness Sophie begins

talking to the hats, unknowingly filling them with magic. Buyers of the magical hats succeed in whatever way Sophie wanted them to. Some marry rich, some look younger, and some attract the attention of important

individuals. Soon the notorious Wicked Witch of the Waste finds out about Sophie’s hats, and, seeing the magic inside them, feels threatened by Sophie and turns her into an old woman. Sophie then finds work in the moving castle of Wizard Howl (who was rumored to eat girl’s hearts). As an old woman Sophie no longer feels the need to be meek, and instead of being afraid of Wizard Howl, she begins butting heads with him on a regular basis. This clash of personalities between Howl and Sophie is what truly gives the book its depth. As the two begin their adventures together they analyze and reprimand each other constantly, and it is only through close inspection that the reader can see the chemistry the two have, and the love they hold for one another. I enjoyed this because instead of their Disney-like love in the movie, the book presents the relationship between Sophie and Howl as flawed, and therefore real. Another great thing about the book is the world Jones creates. Instead of the book almost fairy-tale backdrop, the book has a more science fiction feel to it. Now, I’m not ragging on the movie, it’s one of my favorites, but the original novel shines in a different way.

*End of Spoilers*

Overall I would highly recommend this book and its movie adaptation because of their idealistic nature and fantastical adventures.

Rating: * * * * * (5 out of 5 stars)


Thomas said...

Thanks for the review.
I'm thinking of buying it now.

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