Title: Howl's Moving Castle
Series Title: Howl's Moving Castle (#1)
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Original Published Date: 1986
Edition Language: English
Category: Fantasy, Children, Romance,
Summary: (from Goodreads:) Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl's castle.
To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there's far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.
Review: I love this book! I reread it once every year, and I never grow tired of it! I will recommend it to EVERYONE, who is missing a real magical fantasy that have a once-upon-a-time-atmosphere. Because this book is just magical - no more words are needed, but I will do so anyway.
The book takes place in the land of Ingary, which is of course an imaginary country in a time where wizardry is a profession and technology is not developed the way we know it. E.g. there is no cars, only carriages. Or in Howl's case - a moving castle.
It is a classical fantasy (although it is written in 1986) and already in the first line, you know it. "In the land of Ingary, where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of three."
The characters are wonderful! All of them. Sophie is the main character, and it is her point of view we see the events from. She is sarcastic, witty and lovely. There is a great character change for Sophie, from being a "grey littler mouse" to an independent, bold grown up woman. Or a bully, as Michael, Calcifer and Howl describes her. I would say though, they use the term 'bully' a bit lightheartedly.
Calcifer is Grumpy-funny. He is impolite, spoil, egocentric, but you cannot not love him and laugh with him. He is by the way a fire demon and looks very like as in the book cover (the cover artist has done a good job).
Michael is Howl's apprentice and is a typical teenager with a bit of lack of a spine.
Then there is Howl. Howl is a handsome, vain, arrogant and a bit childish character. Just like Calcifer, he has not many good characteristics, but it is impossible not to love him. He is really funny when he tries to get sympathy or be taken serious (which no one does). He is a bit of a diva in the fun way. I don't know who I love the most: Sophie, Calcifer or Howl. All funny, but in very different way.
When I say funny, I do not mean haha-funny and slamming my hand on my lap. It is... British-funny - quirky. Dry sarcastic humor is my favorite kind. But at the same time it is a children's (8-12 I would guess) book, so the humor is of course not only dry - which is pretty grown up humor - but also pointed toward the younger reader.
Actually I think that is the great thing about this book. No matter what your age is, there is something for everyone.
And the language is in my opinion perfect. It is delicate, a bit old-fashioned but at the same time simple, but not at all plain.
I think it is a combination of the characters, the humor and the language that make me go back and reread the book, and every time I read it I enjoy it as much as I enjoy a hug. It is a cozy book. I think it will always be my all-time favorite.