If you aren't looking for a charming, if a bit light fantasy, you should probably look at some of my other reviews, because this one is rather breezy. Though some things have stuck with me from reading it, it doesn't quite have the resonance of many other fantasy books I've read. However, it proves itself a perfect respite from some of the darker reads that I tend to gravitate towards.
The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl's castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there's far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.'
The characters in this book are magnificent- from Sophie, who considers herself a ne'er do well but really isn't, to Howl, the obnoxious, vain peacock with a heart of gold, though it takes time to prove it. Sophie endeared me with her newfound elderly-ness and her cane, but Howl continued to irk me due to his personality. Some of the other characters probably weren't as lavishly endowed with personalities as Sophie, Howl, and Calcifer (the fire demon), but one doesn't really read a book for the background characters... or at least I don't.
Although I had seen the movie (years ago) there were aspects that still surprised me. I'm not sure if they were in the movie or not, but I found it interesting the way that the author created the world. Though this was written prior to Harry Potter, some of the elements did greatly remind me of that sort of magical experience. It also has multiple fairytale-esque qualities that helped the plot along. It's a magical book.
Howl's Moving Castle is a delightful adventure that falls on the lighter end of the fantasy spectrum, but that doesn't mean it should be overlooked by the serious fantasy reader. Though many might label this a romance, I'm inclined to liken it to a character-centric fantasy instead, perhaps due to my aversion to Howl's personality. If you enjoy fantasy that isn't that grim, and can even be read by a younger audience, I recommend Howl's Moving Castle for your next reading venture.
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars for an excellent, mood enhancing light fantasy!
Age Advisory: Ages 14+ for violence and some gruesome imagery.
Page Count: 329 pages