Diana Wynne Jones
Sophie is the oldest of three sisters. Introverted and retiring, she is certain that in every story the eldest child is destined for abject averageness. When her father dies, her stepmother puts her to work in her father’s hat shop while her sisters (as expected) are sent off to find their fortunes in the world. Sophie embraces her role admirably until she unwittingly insults the wrong customer, The Witch of the Waste. The furious witch turns Sophie into a crone and Sophie is forced out of her bland existence to break the witch’s curse. Sophie becomes reckless in her old age and sneaks into the flying abode of a wizard reputed for stealing the souls of young girls. She makes a deal with Howl’s captive fire demon and installs herself as a maid in the floating castle. As an old woman, Sophie finds courage, stubbornness, and pluck that she never had as a young girl. She also finds that the supposedly vile Howl is not everything that the stories make him out to be.
If you’re looking for a perfect bedtime story or read-aloud, look no further. Howl’s Moving Castle is a fairytale like no other. It reads like a classic, even while it pokes fun at tropes in traditional fairy tales. It full of mystery, magic, and it contains a cast of wonderfully developed characters. The plot is engaging and yields one fantastical surprise after another.
This is technically a children’s fantasy title, but it is a great book for any lovers of fairy-tales or whimsy. It would even make a good bedtime story for kids who can’t read chapter books on their own yet. Hayao Miyazaki created a lovely animated film based on this title and while I would highly recommend it, read the book first. You won’t be disappointed.
Springville Road Library