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  • Book Review: Howl's Moving Castle

    Happy Book Lovers' Day! I'm not actually sure if this is an International holiday or not, but I decided I don't care because who needs an excuse to write about books?! I've written a review of my favourite book, Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.


    This is my ALL TIME FAVOURITE book. Many people are now familiar with it because of the Studio Ghibli film inspired by it, which is not a bad thing, but I'm not a massive fan of the film {I know, I know, insert gasps of horror here}. It's just that the book is so much funnier, and so much cleverer, than the animation, and they mucked about with the characters for the sake of it, and made a goodie the baddie, and the baddie a humorous sidekick, and it's just NOT ON. Ok. Sorry. Rant over.

    The story follows Sophie Hatter, who lives in the land of Ingary where seven league boots and invisibility cloaks do exist. Cursed by the Witch of the Waste to look like an old woman, Sophie strikes a bargain with a fire demon living in the fireplace of a moving castle which roams the hills above her town: if she breaks his contract with the infamous Wizard Howl, then he will lift her curse. But Wizard Howl, so it is said, hungers for the hearts and souls of young girls...

    The first thing I can tell you about this book is that it is absolutely not what it seems. None of the characters are stereotypical of fantasy books in any way. I've never come across another book that is, when you actually think about it, so absolutely weird - and yet you never question a thing! It has one of those plots where you cannot work out where all the threads and strands will join up, but you don't care because you're having such an excellent time reading it.

    The second thing I can tell you is that it is laugh-out-loud funny. I used to read it late in bed at night, stuffing my duvet against my face so I wouldn't wake my parents because I was laughing so hard. Every time I read it I still laugh. The chapter "in which Howl expresses his feelings with green slime" never loses its charm.

    The third, and most important thing I would like to tell you about this book is that it is beautiful - it touches on themes usually absent from lighthearted fantasy stories. One of the main themes is the idea that youth can be hard for the young, that the pressures and expectations of the world around you can make your youth seem suffocating.

    It's an absolutely cracking read from start to finish and I will recommend it to anyone who will listen. Diana Wynne Jones is one of the most underrated British authors ever - her books were out of print for ages so as a teenager I had a standing agreement with two second hand bookshops that they would save any of her books for me so I could have first dibs. If you don't believe me, then just read what Neil Gaiman has to say about her.