HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE by Diana Wynne Jone

April 26, 2009 at 10:14 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Howl's Moving CastleSince probably third grade I have been obsessed with manga/anime and have loved it with an immense passion. In third grade my dad brought me to see “Spirited Away” at the movie theater. I HATED IT! It scared me and creeped me out and that pretty much closed off Hayao Miyazaki’s movies for me. In sixth grade (or was it fifth?) my dad came into the kitchen and said “Gemma, why don’t we go out tonight and see ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’? It was made by the same guy who did ‘Spirited Away’!” I hate to say this but I screamed and ran away to my room. That was the last I had heard of it. Last year my Italian teacher had us bring in all the books we would like to share in the class and started a sort of class library with all our books. My friend Alessia had brought in a load of books and I just chose one since we both had the same taste in books (Twilight anyone?) I took out a book that had “Il castello errante di Howl” written on the front cover and decided to read it (yes people…in Italian! If you haven’t understood it yet I AM bilingual and I DO read in Italian occasionally). I never really liked reading in Italian but I had too…so yeah! I couldn’t get into it seeing as it was in Italian so my mom had the ever so brilliant idea of buying the anime version for me on DVD. I screamed, I yelled but I still watched it and…LOVED IT! I immediately fell in love with Miyazaki’s work (but that’s a different story!) I decided I wanted to read the book again in English since I loved it so much…

The story- Sophie Hatter is an eighteen year old girl living in Market Chipping in Ingary (these are all imaginary places people! Deal with it!). She lives above her family’s hat shop (WOW! The Hatters’ own a hat shop! How original!) with her two sisters, father and stepmother. Her father soon dies and Fanny (her stepmother) has to pull the three girls out of school and send them off to be apprentices. Since Sophie is the eldest (and in Market Chipping it is known that the oldest can never make any fortune) stays in the hat shop (doing what? Making hats silly!) On May Day the Hatter’s shop is closed and Sophie decides to go visit her sister at Cesari’s bakery. On her way there she’s stopped by two guards who try to flirt with her but is dragged away by a mysterious man claiming to be her partner. She ends up at Cesari’s still amazed that a mysterious young man courted her. With her sister she speaks of everything   but in particular she speaks of Howl, a mysterious magician who has a magical castle that floats between Market Chipping and Upper Folding. After the May Day celebrations Sophie goes back to the hat shop when an eccentric woman walks into the store wanting to purchase a hat. She doesn’t generally like the hat Sophie shows her and before leaving turns Sophie into an old crone (gross!) Sophie leaves the next morning quite calmly to find some other place to stay. She comes across the moving castle and enters. Inside she sees a fire and sits in the chair right across from it. The fire speaks (WTF?! She really is crazy!) and claims to be a fire demon (Oh…that explains it!) He detects that Sophie is under a spell (which is a huge relief since Sophie can’t speak about the spell) and they both agree that they will try to break each other’s spell. Sophie falls asleep and when she awakes she sees a young boy of fifteen named Michael ( yummy!) busy bodying around the castle. He’s Howl’s apprentice and as if he had been summoned Howl walks into the castle. Sophie is amazed to see that it is the same man that had saved her on May Day (lucky her!) From then on they all bark on an adventure to destroy the Witch of the Waste (sorry…she’s the one who cast the spell on Sophie -_-’)

The author, Diana Wynne Jones, has also written two other books to complete the series. Though “Castle in the Air” (1990) was in fact published before “House of Many Ways” (2008) it is not in fact the sequel to the book but a companion to the series in which the main characters are featured at the end of the story. Do you all want to know a really random fact? The author’s husband was actually one of my mom’s university professors at Bristol! How random is that? I really do suggest this book to anyone but especially to people who have in fact seen the film adaption since it is 5000000000000000000 times better!




Volterra Reader


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