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on 26 January 2018
So, having watched and loved Miyazaki's film, it stood to reason that at one point I would need to read this book. It looked like such an interesting plot concept and I was eager to find out the differences between the two! I'm so glad I got round to this one as well because it was a great book! The world building was wonderful to start with, though at times I had a few issues getting where in time it was meant to be set. I loved all the settings that Sophie found herself in: Howl's Castle, Market Chipping, Porthaven, the meadow, etc. There was so much in the way of detail, and it was easy to imagine it all. The characters were my favourite thing about this novel. Diana Wynne Jones has this fantastic ability to inject so much life into them, and make each one unique and interesting. Sophie is a strong heroine, at times a little passive yet we see her develop from someone willing to put up with her lot in lie, to an independent, willful lady. She was an amazing lead character! Howl also took me by surprise with is flamboyance, but I really liked it! It was nice to watch his character develop too, from being a selfish womanizer to a heroic and caring Wizard. Calcifer and Michael were great characters too, and it was nice to see Howl's young apprentice have such a prominent role. The Witch of the Waste was a good villain, though she didn't take up too much of the story. The plot was really good as well, though there were moments that everything became so fast paced that I had a hard time understanding exactly what was going on. A really enjoyable read though, I so want to read the next one!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 September 2015
My introduction to both this book and author originally came from the Japanese animated movie of it by the legendary studio Ghibli. I loved it, amazing characters, excellent plot and a well realised world. Over a year later my partner pointed out to me it was based on a book by British author Diana Wynne Jones so naturally I had to give it a try.

While very similar they differ greatly and it's obvious studio Ghibli changed quite a lot of it. The main character is a young woman named Sophie Hatter who lives a rather unfufilling living making hats in a small shop in the land of Ingary. Her life becomes infinitely more interesting when one day the Wicked Witch of the Wastes appears in her shop and transforms the young woman into an old crone. Not wanting her family to see her like this Sophie runs (well, hobbles) off eventually ending up in a place no one would think to look for her, the castle of the evil Wizard Howl that roams the countryside.

The ideas in this book felt really original in so many ways and are supported by some surprisingly humorous moments, some of which are pretty subtle. The characters are great, especially Sophie once she becomes a bossy old woman really made me smile. Despite being a book for young adults I found it well suited for people of all ages really and had a good time reading it. I did however I must admit, enjoy the film more, (rare that is the case) if only because I found the pace of the book pretty slow, there are stretches where little really seems to be happening but it all ties together nicely in the end.

If you're a fan of the film or just want a creative story that's a little bit different then you certainly can't go wrong with Howl's moving Castle.

+ Very original.
+ Great cast of characters.
+ Good humour in places.

- Pacing is a little slow in a couple of places.
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on 28 March 2017
For a while I was worried this book was nothing like the movie that I will always call my favourite of all time.
Although it is so different it is also 100% as amazing (maybe more so) in the end as the film and I am so Glad I decided to give the book a read when I found it in my suggested books section.
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on 8 January 2016
As a great lover of Studio Ghibli and their films, Howl's Moving Castle was always my favourite and I'll admit that I had no idea it was based on a novel. When I did find this out, I immediately wanted to read the book that inspired one of my favourite films. It took me a while to get it, but I'm so happy that I've read it now.

Diana Wynne Jones's tale of Howl, Sophie, Michael, and Calcifer was so vastly different from the movie version I had loved that I felt like I was reading something entirely new and yet it was still so familiar. It was a wonderful feeling to crack open the book and find characters that I know and love but in a lot of different situations.

There's obviously a lot more to the book, which is to be expected, and it added a whole new level of depth to the story that I was accustomed to. We see a lot more of Sophie's sisters, following their lives once they've moved away from the hat shop and fallen in love. We learn more about Sophie's step-mother and her personality - which I'll admit always confused me a little in the film. Finally, there's a whole new sub-plot added with Wizard Suliman and Prince Justin.

Even though I went into this with certain expectations in my head, I wasn't disappointed in the slightest when the story pulled away from these expectations within the first few pages. I was instantly charmed by Jones's writing and I fell into the story just as easily as the film on my first viewing.

The characters had a lot more spark to them, which I had expected because a movie can't always portray everything that a writer could. Howl was much more dramatic in the novel, and although it made me like him a little less, it didn't make me hate him exactly. Michael is older in the novel than the movie and I enjoyed seeing him grow and build his magic skills. Sophie was actually quite similar, if perhaps a bit more crotchety. The only major disappointment I had was that the Witch of the Waste didn't feature as much in the novel as the film.

I didn't realise that this story was from the 80's either! I was quite shocked when I saw that. I definitely think that this could fall into the category of classics. It's such a beautiful tale of friendship, love, and adventure. I genuinely loved it and am excited that it's a trilogy because it means that there is more! I highly recommend this to everyone.
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on 27 March 2014
Arguably revived to greater prominence with the 2004 Hazao Miyazaki anime film in 2004, Diana Wynne Jones's novel is a charming fantasy story about a young hatmaker, Sophie Hatter, whom the Witch of the Waste mistakes as the one who offended her and transforms into a 90-year-old under the witch's curse. The oldest of 3 daughters, Sophie is fated (so she believes) to failure, and to live out a dull and unfulfilling life stuck in her deceased father's hatmaker shop, while her two sisters are each apprenticed to more exciting professions (in her view), Lettie, the prettiest to a pastry shop and Martha the smartest, to a witch, Mrs Fairfax.

Sophie stumbles into the dark Wizard Howl's moving castle quite by accident when she flees her home in search of a cure for the spell she is under, and discovers that he is a much more ordinary man (if a little caddish and flippant, and an irresponsible "slitherer-outer") than the rumours surrounding him proclaims. While still a powerful wizard, his reputation of being a eater of hearts is more figurative than literal, as widely believed.

In Howl's castle, Sophie meets a fire demon, Calcifer, who is under contract to Howl, and Michael, a young, kind-hearted apprentice. It is through her concern for others, e.g. her promise to find out what binds Calcifer to Howl and to break it, her protective instincts towards her two sisters whom she is afraid to meet in her cursed state, and her loyalty to Howl, with whom she develops a love-hate relationship, that ultimately saves her.

There are many believable fantastical features in this delightful book, such as the seven-league boots that Sophie tries on to catch a falling star with Michael, the way the castle is able to contain Howl's Porthaven house, and then Sophie's hatmaker shop later on, and the way the castle's door can open at four different locales, controlled by the turn of a knob. Jones's fantasy world of Ingary is so well-written that it becomes quite a shock when the reader is hurled into modern Wales, where Howl's sister and her children reside, and where he is known more prosaically as Howell. That we see the strangeness of modern England through Sophie's eyes, so that the familiar becomes unfamiliar, is testament to the consistency of Wynne Jones's artistic creation. Wonderfully written, and I look forward to reading her other works, as well as the two sequels to this novel.
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on 6 March 2014
Howl's Moving Castle has become extremely popular as the Studio Ghibli anime, but not many of the people I've spoken to about it are aware that it was first a book, much less know that the author is british!

Whilst the anime is very different from the book, Miyazaki has simply taken artistic license with it. Adding in a few of the things he wanted to see, such as flying machines and war scenes. That is what Diana Wynne Jones is about, she wrote the book to make real all of the fantasy things which people want like Seven League Boots for instance.

Being a big Studio Ghibli fan, I tore open the wrapper of my Howls Moving Castle steelbook and set to watching it. I watched it, ordered the book by Diana Wynne Jones and then watched the movie twice more whilst waiting for it to come in the post! I enjoyed the movie but felt that some things didn't quite make sense. Since reading the book, all of those little bits have come much clearer to me and I adore the book.

Diana Wynne Jones has a method of writing which could hook most adults and children, the book is packed with fantastical events and amazing imagery. There are a great many references to fairy tales and one thing that the story made me think of is Beauty and The Beast. Anyone who knows Studio Ghibli will probably know the outline of Howl's Moving Castle but I don't really want to spoil the story for anybody who hasn't heard of it before – and yes there are people who haven't! Suffice to say, you will read through love, adventure, danger and a great many fantastically developed characters who you will grow to love.

Diana Wynne Jones has also written Castle In The Air and The House of Many Ways which are sequels and star Howl, but perhaps in disguise!
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on 31 October 2016
I quite liked the animated 'anime' version of this Diana Wynne Jones fantasy, so I thought I would give the book a go, it turns out to be a rather wonderful tale.
It reminds me of the Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, Roald Dahl, the Arabian Nights and a few other children's stories that have enough depth and drama to appeal to adults too.
I gave it four stars as I found it a little bit slow at times, but I will definitely seek out the remaining books in this series along with any other books by the author.
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on 4 December 2017
As a product this is a very good paperback. Its well made and printed on think paper. It looks and feels very nice. The book itself is a wonderful read. Its light and very entertaining. Its a breath of fresh air from the mass of YA novels currently on the market. Its well paced with a dynamic plot and overall just a very enjoyable read. However, if you are finding the book after you've watched the Studio Ghibli movie, be prepared for some major differences which may leave you with a new impression of the main characters, the wizard Howl especially :).
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on 19 July 2013
It is impossible for me to write an unbiased review of this book. I love Diana Wynne Jones her books. I love the adaptation made by Miyazaki. However, I really want to confer on potential buyers how wonderful this book is.
Howl's Moving Castle tells the story of Sophie, a young girl that does not think to much of herself as she is the eldest of three sisters, which in a magical world means that you have a boring future in store for you. But when a wicked witch puts a spell on her, everything becomes very interesting especially as she has to seek out the dreaded Wizard Howl, who eats the hearts of young girls.
Wynne Jones weaves together fairy tale wisdoms that we we all grew up with and know with strong, amazingly complex (for a children's book) characters and our own world. I especially love how characters are not really good or evil but, just as everyone you know, sometimes heroic, egotistical or insecure.
If you have already seen the movie, please take the time to read the book. I found it filled in a number of small gaps that I did not understand and to be honest, the characters are more interesting in the book, especially Calcifer a fire demon with a secret.
To keep this review brief, I can only recommend this book wholeheartedly. I would not know for which ages and up its appropriate, some scenes may be a bit scary, but mostly there is nothing shocking or obscene. Read it and love it.
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on 11 March 2017
I'm so sad still that she's no longer with us and writing, but I'll never stop rereading her books. If you or your children enjoy fantasy, you should try Diana's books.
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