Sophie is put under a curse by the Witch of the Waste and made into an old woman. When she sets out to break the curse, she finds herself at the moving castle of the Wizard Howl, a wicked man who is said to eat the hearts of young girls. But as Sophie begins to work for him, she discovers more about Howl and his fire demon, Calcifer and how to break all their curses.
But there was this method to her remorselessness: she calculated that she could not clean this thoroughly without sooner or later coming across Howl's hidden hoard of girls' souls, or chewed hearts - or else something that explained Calcifer's contract. p.68
I love Diana Wynne Jones. I was obsessed with her Chrestomanci books when I was younger and that lead me to Howl's Moving Castle
. I hadn't read it in at least 10 years, but the other day I was watching the movie and I decided I need to read it again. It is a slower moving book, less action than some books especially in a fantasy, but it is such a good book. I thoroughly enjoyed it as much as an adult as I did when I was a child. Sophie is such a funny, plain girl, but after she becomes an old woman she gets really feisty and funny. Howl is very selfish and odd, but he can be kind as well and the scenes with the two of them are great. Calcifer, though, is one of my favorite characters (I must have a soft spot for demons (I'm looking at you, Bartimaeus.)) and I like the whole story of the Witch of the Waste and where Howl originates from. It makes it more fun.
I also love Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. And I love the anime of the book. The story is almost completely different which normally would bother me, but it is a great movie on its own. Sophie is still cursed by the Witch, but for a different reason. The Howl/Calcifer relationship is mostly the same, but Sophie's sisters and their subplot are almost eliminated as are several other characters. Some characters and plot elements from the book are combined or eliminated to create a much simpler and more streamline story. I realized this had to be done because there is a lot going on in the book that would be too busy for a movie. Still it is a lovely movie, both in plot and in looks. The voice acting for the dubbed version is great. Billy Crystal plays Calcifer and that gives him more of a comedic tone so that was an interesting choice. It's not as successful as Phil Hartman in Kiki's Delivery Service
, but it still works. The only problem I had with it (*spoiler for the book*
) is the removal of Sophie's magical powers. I love that part of the book and I wished they could have included it.
Read the Book, See the Movie