The Three W’s: Witches, Wizards, and Warlocks
Howl’s Moving Castle
Diana Wynne Jones
Truth be told, I broke one of my most sacred commandments by seeing the movie version of Howl’s Moving Castle before I actually read the book (collective gasp of shock). But Miyazaki’s take on Jones’ novel, like most movie adaptations, takes some of the truly great parts of the novel and leaves some great moments behind. Reading the book won’t spoil the movie and vice versa. That being said…
Howl’s Moving Castle focuses on Sophie, a woman who is the eldest of three daughters. Her day goes like any other day, the Witch of Waste turns her into a 90 year old woman, she makes friends with a scarecrow, all before entering a magic castle where she strikes a deal with a fire demon. Same thing I did last Tuesday. While in the castle, Sophie meets Howl, the egocentric master of the house and powerful wizard. In the midst of Sophie’s troubles, readers also deal with Howl, Prince Justin, the King, and even the Witch of Waste’s problems. What’s more interesting? All the stories interweave and as the story goes on, each character’s unique story gets a spotlight.
Jones’ writes with a lot of humor and charm. Sophie, and her cantankerous manner with Howl and even Calcifer, the fire demon, provides many instances of snappy and witty dialogue. Be warned or two things. One, you might need two reads to catch some of subtle clues and twisting plotlines. The book is well worth the second read. Two, the magical realm causes a lot of envy. By the end of the book readers might want to get their hands on their own personal Calcifer, or moving castle, or even 90-year-old person disguise.
Wizard Howl was bad enough. Though he did not seem to want to leave the hills, he was known to amuse himself by collecting young girls and sucking the souls from them. Or some people said he ate their hearts. He was an utterly cold-blooded and heartless wizard and no young girl was safe from him if he caught her on her own.