General Writing

Howl’s moving castle

A story that filled with fairytale and magical scenes is a youth must-read material. Sweet, light-hearted and joyful, this book serves with romance, fantasy, and Drama. Diana Wynne Jone, the author, gets a suggestion to write this book from a schoolboy, meaning that inspiration comes from anywhere in anytime, and thanks to the boy, we have a good book to read. This review is based on the book only, regardless of the animated movie. Behold! Spoilers ahead!

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The goal to the main protagonist is simple, she seeks her fortune. The story begins with Sophie Hatter, being an elder of three, is working full-time in a hat shop as a helper with her stepmother after the death of her father. Two of her younger sisters have been sent away for their glamorous future, leaving herself in a shop. She has been talking with those hats she is making to skip the boredom before, one day a wicked aging spell cast on her by the Witch of the Waste, dooming her future is futile.

With this dramatic change suddenly, she decides to go on an adventure, at least one thing that she does it for herself, not for others. Her old age and mobility do not get her very far, she stands in front of the moving castle where the dawn is near. As she finally gets in the castle after a few hassle attempts, the fire demon lives in the hearth of the castle challenges Sophie to break the contract between him and Howl, and in return, he might be able to help Sophie to break the aging curse. So she demands to stay for a rest, then she ends up to be a housekeeper for the castle.

How Sophie overcomes her own fear is fascinating. Since her home and the shop is connected to one another and she stays in the shop as a help-out most of the time, she doesn’t get used to being crowded places and with the gossips that she hears about the evil wizard, Howl, on how he eats up girls and the scary stories about the Witch, her timid heart fills with many layers of fears to the outside world. But when she becomes old, her point of view changes completely.

Nobody cares about an old woman what she does or says, and she is better to take care of herself along with her creaking body before worrying about other issues. Her bravery grows day by day while staying at the castle, seeing different people knocking the doors every day and the magic casting in the air of the living room. Having a discussion with the King of Ingary in private, and catching a falling star at night with a pair of miles flying boots, or facing off the Witch for a rescue, Sophie has sharped herself like an iron woman. This mentality is everybody wishes for isn’t?

Howl, as a wizard, is a kind, charm, and lovable character with a drawback of messiness. A lady killer that he sleeps with cobwebs in a canopy, taking lengthy showers, and when it comes to standing off against his own fear, he acts like cowardly passive. His tactic is by stating not getting involved in the ominous crisis to trick himself doing it, which turns out to be adequate. Reflecting back his life, he is a playful and high-spirited wizard who loves to have fun, using his magic to solve people problems to make a grandeur living, till the Witch and Sophie come in his life. If you happen to like this character, have you asked yourself that is it his charming suit doing the work or his dazzling smile?

 

However, the ending scene of the witch’s death is rather less dramatic than what a reader expected to be. When Howl has the first fight with her near the pier is epic. The magical storm brings great chaos across the town and then revolving as shadowy animal-figures chasing one another. Both are about the same levels in magic crafts, that the whole town has to suffer their fierce fight. The later fighting scene, on the other hand, is a rather hasty closing. Howl shows up in the middle of the Witch fighting with the scarecrow, and despite his tiredness, he summons a thunder and strikes over their heads. The witch is subsequently fading away in white ashes, leaving old bones on the ground. That’s the ending of the Witch.

 

By looking into the castle design, the teleportation of the door, and the vivid details on Calcifer, the imaginative thinking by the author is admirable. The black stones of its wall on the outer of the castle move individually, giving an impression of how giant and burdened the castle must be. Moreover, despite the look of its size from the outside, it’s much smaller on the inside. It has multiple rooms with different functionalities in it. The door, being almost the main feature in the book, leads way to different places whenever the colors of the blob change from the square knob. And Calcifer, a fire demon dwells in the castle’s hearth, is responsible for the mechanical movement as well as the energy supply of the castle. His descriptive face and reaction is also the element to dive the reader into its world. These details are captivating and fun to read.

The poems in the story also deserve a prop. It was entertained. Diana nimbly inserts the poems in the story as a puzzle for the reader to guess, then revealing the answers through the actions by Howl and Sophie, taking the reader for a ride.

Star rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

The photo comes from the internet as my book is not in good condition due to its second-hand purchase, sorry! 🙂

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