Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Howl’s Moving Castle
Howl’s Castle, book 1
by Diana Wynne Jones

When Sophie is curse by the Witch of the Waste and transformed into an old woman, she heads to Wizard Howl’s moving castle and makes a deal with a fire demon.

I saw the movie once ages ago, but I mostly just remember Calcifer, so I was excited to read the book without the influence of the film adaptation in my mind.

I enjoyed this magical journey. There were a lot more layers to the story than I had expected for a middle grade book, but I’ve honestly never read much middle grade, so that may have just been a poor assumption on my part. There are plenty of curses, contracts, deception, multiple locations, and more magic than even the main characters realize. The plot was not particularly complicated, but there was never a dull moment, nor a confusing one, as things continued to develop.

I liked the characters, flawed as they were, and seeing them grow throughout the story. Sophie shyly accepts the role that is expected of her in the beginning, then transforms into a blunt old woman, eventually becoming a confident young lady, taking charge of the things that matter to her. Howl is a terrible, self-centered heartbreaker, and avoiding his past catches up to him. Plus the many side characters intertwined in the magical goings-on of this world.

This was a lovely, short read filled with magic, and I’m interested in reading the sequels.