Saturday, April 30, 2011
Review of Howl's Moving Castle
Howl's Moving Castle is a fantasy novel that takes a different route from most fantasy stories. Dragons are absent, unfortunately, but the novel is so well written that they basically would've gotten in the way. I decided to read the book after seeing the movie, and I was not disappointed with the differences.
Sophie Hatter is the eldest of three sisters in the land of Ingary. Ingary is a place where elements of fairy tales do happen (like enchantments, rags to riches stories, etc.). Since she's the oldest, Sophie doesn't expect much of herself in life. On the holiday of May Day, she attracts the eye of the wizard Howl (although she doesn't know if it's him). Rumors exist that he eats the hearts of young girls and she runs in fear that they might be true. However, the Witch of the Waste (a very mean person) visits her hat shop and curses Sophie into becoming an old woman of 90 and leaves her unable to speak of her curse.
Knowing that she can't stay at home any longer, Sophie leaves to try and seek out her fate. She doesn't have much luck when she rescues both a scarecrow and a dog because neither of them give her advice (as things like that happen in Ingary). However, she does come across Howl's moving castle and is allowed in by the fire demon Calcifer, who promises to lift Sophie's curse if she promises to free him from the contract he made with Howl. She stays with Howl and his apprentice Micheal and cleans up the castle while Howl goes courting girls.
During a trip to Wales (where Howl originally came from), the Witch of the Waste puts a curse on Howl that will eventually result in him giving her his heart. Howl tries to hide from both her and the King of Ingary, who wants Howl to look for his lost brother Prince Justin. Sophie must find a way to help her new friends, or risk losing them to the evil of the Witch of the Waste.
I enjoyed watching the movie Howl's Moving Castle, and I was not disappointed when I read the book. Although there were great differences between the two, the spirit of the story remains the same. I enjoyed reading about this world of floating castles, wizards and witches, and talking fires, and I would like to read the two sequels someday.