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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read the book please! (even if you've watched the movie)
You may be reading this because you've recently watched the Miyazaki interpretation of Howl's Moving Castle. If you're wondering whether or not you should bother to read the book, the answer is YES!! This is an excellent book, one of my favourites. Miyazaki only skimmed the surface of its depths. He also altered the story and some of the characters so read with an open...
Published on July 11 2005 by yvette

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Some of the paragraphs in this book doesn't flow....
The reason why I wanted to read this book is because Hayao Miyazaki is going to turn Howl's Moving Castle into an anime movie. And Hayao Miyazaki is a genius when it comes to animation. He surpasses Walt Disney in imagination in his animation.
Howl's Moving Castle is great by all means, the story is wonderful, the characters are very well developed, and there are...
Published on Feb. 21 2004 by Ian


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read the book please! (even if you've watched the movie), July 11 2005
By 
This review is from: Howl's Moving Castle (Paperback)
You may be reading this because you've recently watched the Miyazaki interpretation of Howl's Moving Castle. If you're wondering whether or not you should bother to read the book, the answer is YES!! This is an excellent book, one of my favourites. Miyazaki only skimmed the surface of its depths. He also altered the story and some of the characters so read with an open mind and prepare to fall in love with Sophie, Howl, Calcifer (who, by the way is blue not orange), Michael (not Markl and actually a teenager), and all the magic that goes with them.
Diana Wynne Jones is much more subtle with her lessons in the book than Miyazaki is in the movie so don't expect the "war is bad" and "love is good" lessons to be thrown in your face. In fact, there isn't even a war in the book! That was something that was added in the jump from page to screen.
Quick, go read the book! (The sequel is Castle in the Air... also very good and ironically the title of another very different Miyazaki film.)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Howlingly good, Oct. 7 2006
By 
Amanda Richards (Georgetown, Guyana) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME)   
A fantastically funny tale of witches, wizards, demons and magic, all rolled up into an entertaining book for all ages. If you've seen the movie of the same name, you should note that there were many changes in the story on the way to animation, but the book remains the better version.

Sophie Hatter has the misfortune of being the eldest of three sisters, and in her mind she is resigned to spending her entire life in the hat shop, talking to the hats. One day she incurs the wrath of the evil Witch of the Waste, who casts a spell on Sophie, turning her into an old lady with an attitude.

As the story goes, Sophie takes off by herself before anybody sees her wrinkles or hears her joints creaking, and ends up installing herself as housekeeper in the weird castle belonging to the Wizard Howl, whom it is rumored eats the hearts of beautiful young women. Here she meets a fire demon named Calcifer and strikes a bargain with him regarding breaking the spells that hold them both captive. She also meets Michael, Howl's young apprentice, and between them they keep the castle running (sometimes literally) while the vain and fickle Howl prowls about his multi-dimensional domain, courting various young ladies who catch his fancy.

When a prince goes missing, the King orders Howl to find him, as well as another missing wizard, and while he's at it, to kill the Witch of the Waste. Howl is reluctant to extend that much energy, and besides he has personal reasons why he shouldn't go anywhere near the witch, so he sets up Sophie to pose as his mother and make excuses to the king why he isn't the wizard for the job.

To make a long story short, his plan backfires and Howl realizes he has his work cut out for him. Sophie also has to figure out how to free Calcifer, and get back her girlish figure, while the moving castle keeps doing its thing.

Highly recommended for young readers with imagination.

Amanda Richards
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5.0 out of 5 stars Um, YEAH!, June 27 2004
Well then. Since you are reading this review, I can only assume that you are on the book's page. My advice to you is: Scroll up, add it to you cart, and buy immediately! I got it at the library a couple of days ago, along with Castle in the Air, knowing by now that it's best to get any Diana series all at once or you will be itching for the next one as soon as you're done with the first. I swear to you, I have not laughed so hard or read so avidly over a book in a LONG time. The humour is perfectly placed to make you give a shriek of laughter at just the right moments. My family was looking at me rather strangely by the time I had finished. I liked the atmosphere of Howl's Moving Castle, and the characters just seemed to mesh so well with the surroundings and plot that if it weren't for the regrettable nessecities of meals and sleeping, it's quite probable that any reader would jump into the book headfirst and not come up until it's over. Anyone who liked Charmed Life or any other of the Chrestomanci books will love this and the sequel!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting Adventure, May 10 2004
By 
T. Hooper "thdizzy" (Osaka, Japan) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Howl's Moving Castle is an excellent fantasy story. It deals with Sophie, the oldest of three sisters. She believes, as the oldest of the three, she is doomed to a bad fate. One day her father, a hat seller, dies and leaves the girls with their step-mother. The youngest goes to live with a witch to learn magic. The second sister goes to work at a bakery. Sophie is stuck with the hat shop. One day, an evil witch, the Witch of the Waste, comes in and without explanation turns Sophie into an old woman. Sophie decides to leave the hat shop and find her own destiny. After leaving the town, she runs into a huge moving castle. This castle belongs to Wizard Howl who is know to steal the souls and eat the hearts of young girls. Believing herself to be too old for Howl's morbid tastes, she decides to enter the castle. Perhaps Wizard Howl can lift the spell she is under. This begins Sophie's adventure.
For fans of fantasy, this is an excellent book. Diana Wynne Jones is an excellent storyteller. Also, for fans of Japanese animation, Hayao Miyazaki's next film will be based on this book. Be sure to read this before watching the movie. I'm sure you'll love reading it as much as I did.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Some of the paragraphs in this book doesn't flow...., Feb. 21 2004
By 
Ian (Pakistan) - See all my reviews
The reason why I wanted to read this book is because Hayao Miyazaki is going to turn Howl's Moving Castle into an anime movie. And Hayao Miyazaki is a genius when it comes to animation. He surpasses Walt Disney in imagination in his animation.
Howl's Moving Castle is great by all means, the story is wonderful, the characters are very well developed, and there are some twists and turns that are just hilarious when it does happen. This is a book where you can root for the characters.
The one flaw I found reading this book is the author's inability to flow one paragraph to another. There is a 60% execution rate where the author can link one paragraph to another. But sometimes the author has problems. For example, when I was reading the book, (I'll try to avoid giving out spoilers) there was some parts where nothing much happens or the story is very slow, then all of a sudden it takes a turn where you say, "What just happened, that paragraph doesn't correlate at all to the previous paragraph of the story, It doesnt even match." So most of the time, you wonder to yourself, what is going on, I'm lost, I'm confused.
Another flaw I found is that the author tried to rush the story. The story felt rushed, especially during the end. I kept reading the book, and all of a sudden I finished reading the book, and I wondered to myself, what happened to the climax. I somewhat read it, is that it? Is that the climax?
Some people will argue, the best way to understand some of the stuff I missed is to read it over again. Let me tell those people that a good book can explain it all clearly in one read-through. The only people that would read it twice or 3 times or more are the people that really loved the book.
In the end, Hayao Miyazaki will convert this book into something else. He turns books that have a lot of flaws into animated movies that are 100 times better than the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not your average fantasy..., Dec 6 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Howls Moving Castle (Hardcover)
What is it that separates Howl's Moving Castle from all the other magic-driven tales out there? Well, the best answer I can supply is that it has a sort of rare, spunky quality that makes it a fairytale, just twisted around so you can relate to it. I have never met anyone who has not enjoyed this book. In fact, most people, like me, love it.
The tale can be a bit confusing, which is why it turns out all the more satisfying. This also gives it its re-read factor. I guarantee you will not pick up everything the first time you read, but after that you will discover little clues and portions you wouldn't have noticed otherwise. It also suits readers of all ages.
The storyline is bold and new, though it has the familiarity of an old fairytale. It will not bore you with never-ending descriptions of things you don't care about. You will want to know what happens to the characters, particularly Howl and Sophie, since they have such strong personalities.
All of this authors books are great, with a unique writing style that is humorous and vivid.
The only thing I can say is, if you haven't already picked up Howl's moving castle, go! Now! You won't regret it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sparkling fantasy, April 25 2003
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME)   
Diana Wynne-Jones has a well-deserved reputation for funny, well-plotted, keep-you-riveted-to-your-chair fantasy stories. Here she provides an unusual sorcerer, an unlikely heroine, and a lot of sly winks at fantasies and fairy tales. Very entertaining.
Sophie Hatter is the eldest of three daughters, which in this fantasyland means that she's the one who doesn't have an astounding "fortune" to seek. Instead she's stuck at the hat shop. One day a plump, very rude woman comes to see the hats, and Sophie uncharacteristically insults her. Unfortunately, this woman is the Witch of the Wastes, and responds by aging Sophie into a crone. Peeved out of being shy and retiring, she tramps off to the "Moving Castle" of the supposedly evil wizard Howl, who reportedly [steals] out the souls of young girls.
After arriving at the castle, she encounters Howl's pleasant apprentice and contracted fire demon Calcifer (who promises to disenchant Sophie if she breaks his contract). Though she annoys the rather self-absorbed Howl and drives Calcifer almost nuts at times, Sophie becomes the cleaning lady at the Moving Castle. She begins searching for the chewed-up hearts of the girls, only to find something a lot more bizarre -- including her own peculiar magic.
If you've ever read a fairy tale -- Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast -- you'll know that the youngest kids are always are the favored ones. They go on to marry princes or princesses, become wealthy and beloved. Jones mocks this and many other fairy-tale cliches, such as the hilarious scene where Sophie lurches around in seven-league boots. There's even a brief homage to J.R.R. Tolkien.
It's certainly an interesting twist to have a not-so-evil evil-wizard, a harried apprentice, and a heroine who appears to be in her nineties. Similarly, the ideas of the "Moving Castle" with its doors to other places (including modern Wales) is very original. That's not even mentioning the attacking scarecrow.
Until she's aged into a crone, Sophie isn't much of a heroine; she's too timid and dull to be of interest. Post-aging, she becomes interesting and delightfully pushy. Howl is not what you think of a "bad" wizard as; his tantrums over things like hair dye are hysterically funny, and he's also immensely attractive to the opposite sex. Michael is a good sidekick, with the common-sense that Howl lacks; Calcifur the fire demon is one of Jones' most memorable characters, especially when Sophie bullies him.
While it isn't quite as spectacular as Jones' Chrestomanci Chronicles, "Howl's Moving Castle" will appeal to those who liked fantasy spoof "Dark Lord of Derkholm" and "Year of the Griffin." A funny, thought-provoking magical ride.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The BEST!, March 1 2003
By A Customer
"Howl's Moving Castle" is the best Diana Wynne Jones book I've read. She is one of my all time favorite fantasy writers. I have about 10 of her books, and I'm building up my collection. "Howl's Moving Castle" is about Sophie Hatter, the eldest daughter of three. When her father dies, her step-mother sends the other two daughters, Lettie and Martha, to be apprenticed. Sophie stays home, to help in the hat shop. (her father was a hatter)
One day, Sophie is selling hats, and the Witch of the Waste comes in. The Witch of the Waste is a terrifying old witch who lived in the Waste, a huge desert. Sophie offers her hats, but the witch is not pleased. She turns Sophie into an old lady.
Sophie does not want her mother and sisters to see her as an old lady, and she was getting tired of her life in the hat shop. She sets out to seek her fortune, and finds plenty of excitement.
She finds the castle of the Wizard Howl, a wizard with a BAD reputation. She first meets his apprentice, Michael. She also meets Calcifer, Howl's fire demon. Calcifer tells her that he and Howl had a contract, and asks her to break it: it was not good for him or for Howl. However, Calcifer can not tell Sophie what the contract is. In exchange, Calcifer will try to break the spell on Sophie.
Sophie becomes Howl's cleaning lady as an excuse to find out about the contract. She meets Howl, a funny, lazy, "slither-outer" wizard. She gradually comes to enjoy her life in the castle, despite her exasperation with Howl, which is hilarious.
I don't want to tell everyone the ending, but I'll drop some hints for the curious. Sophie finds that Howl isn't the only one with magic, learns about the contract, and eventually confronts the Witch of the Waste head on.
"Howl's Moving Castle" is one of the best books I've ever read. I lent it to all of my friends, and they all loved it too. I've read it again and again, and I still find it interesting and funny every single time. If you like the book, it has a sequel, which is called "The Castle in the Air". It isn't as good as "Howl's Moving Castle," but it's still a fairly good book. Another book that is just as good as "Howl's Moving Castle" is "Dark Lord of Derkholm" by Diana Wynne Jones, and its sequel, "Year of the Griffin".
Diana Wynne Jones is the greatest fantasy writer. I LOOOOOOOOVE her books! You have to get them!
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5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite book of all time!, Jan. 7 2003
By 
Diana Divine (California, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Too bad I can only give 5 stars to Howl's Moving Castle; it deserves far more. I'm a voracious reader, with 20 or 30 shelves full of books, and Howl's Moving Castle is my favorite of all of them. What makes it so great? For starters, the vivid characters are wonderful. They have such strong personalities that they almost become caricatures, but then Ms. Jones tosses in a little detail that makes them human. I especially love Howl, the outrageously foppish, over-dramatic, slitherer-outer of a wizard. Another thing that is wonderful about Howl's Moving Castle is all the tiny references to fairy-tale conventions, other works, the modern world (specifically in Wales), and even old poetry. A third thing to love about Howl's Moving Castle is the sheer amount of levels. I would estimate that I've read it 50 or 60 times, and I always catch something new each time I read it. It's hilarious and sweet. Even fantasy-haters that I made read this book loved it. It's seriously for everyone. I love Howl's Moving Castle; now the wait is on for the 2004 or 2005 animated movie by world-famous animation studio Studio Ghibli!
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5.0 out of 5 stars 'We can't all be Mad Hatters', Nov. 28 2002
By 
Michele L. Worley (Kingdom of the Mouse, United States) - See all my reviews
Even a short study of fairy tales will show that in any family of 3 siblings, the youngest will make his or her fortune, but the eldest will come off worst - Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and Puss in Boots, to name three - and Sophie Hatter, eldest of the three Hatter sisters, has been very well educated indeed; so much so that upon her father's death, the sisters discover that he was deep in debt over their school fees. Sophie has always backed up Fanny, her stepmother, in working to make sure that Martha, the youngest, is prepared to make her way in the world; it's no surprise that Fanny has arranged for Martha to study with Mrs. Fairfax (a good witch), Lettie to be apprenticed in a pastry shop, and Sophie in the family hat shop.
Sophie gets very lonely trimming hats, being set apart as the boss' daughter, and throws herself too much into her work - although she pays attention to customers' gossip about Wizard Howl, who's said to steal the souls of young girls and eat their hearts. On May Day, Sophie finally ventures out to visit Lettie at the pastry shop - but Lettie and Martha have swapped places on the sly. *Lettie's* the one who wants to go on learning, while Martha wants to socialize, settle down, and raise a big family. They're both worried about Sophie having hypnotized herself with the theory that she can't amount to anything, being the eldest. :)
Before Sophie makes up her mind to rebel, her future takes a new turn: the Witch of the Waste comes to call at the hat shop, looking for the upstart 'Miss Hatter' - and curses Sophie, aging her from her twenties to her eighties, with the added touch that Sophie can't speak of the spell to anyone who doesn't know it already. Sophie faces up to the challenge - 'of course I shall have to do for her when I get the chance' - and walks out of the hat shop on the spot to seek her fortune. With no clear destination in mind, she seeks out Howl's castle just outside town.
Being old is the making of Sophie; she doesn't care anymore about being embarrassed, and is a *very* outspoken old woman indeed, and bossy - not at all the downtrodden mouse she was becoming in the hat shop. She bullies her way past Michael, Howl's young apprentice, and takes a seat by the hearth, claiming to be waiting for Howl (after all, he's only interested in young girls). Calcifer, the fire demon under contract to Howl, can see the Witch's spell, and offers her a deal - if she'll stay and find a way to break his contract, he'll figure out how to break the spell. And how will she make an excuse for staying? Well, Howl may be a wizard, but this *is* a bachelor household. 'I'm your new cleaning lady, of course.' :) (What better excuse for searching the place - and just generally being nosy?)
Nice touch: 'heartless Howl' isn't *evil*, and he only devours the hearts of young girls in a manner of speaking. As Michael says, 'We've had lawsuits, and suitors with swords, and mothers with rolling pins, and fathers and uncles with cudgels. And aunts. Aunts are terrible. They go for you with hatpins.' Howl cultivates a bad reputation professionally mainly to keep customers from imposing on him, but it's not working...
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Howl's Moving Castle
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (Paperback - April 15 2008)
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