Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Howl's Moving Castle has been my first introduction to the writing of Diana Wynne Jones and I am thrilled to have fallen in love with such a prolific author. I plan to devour everything she has written.
This story of a transient magical castle which houses an unlikely group of wanderers is a must-read for anyone who claims to be a fan of fantasy. The tale includes magic spells, enchanted objects, jealous lovers, mistaken identities and flamboyant displays of emotion. It reads like a Shakespearean story that journeyed into into Narnia via the Tardis (and that is an extremely well-paid compliment!).
As for the characters: Howl (a Wizard) is a dashing, charming, narcissistic leading man who will steal your heart (maybe literally!) as he travels through dimensions wooing beautiful women. Sophie (a hatmaker??) is a talented, sassy, ever-evolving leading lady who is unwittingly sent upon a journey of self-discovery with Howl. Michael (a wizard's apprentice) is the "boy next door" whose cheeks you just want to pinch. And Calcifer (a fire demon)- oh what a layered, endearing, wonderful character he is!!!
This book has the intelligence of a Gregory Maguire novel, the approachability of Young Adult literature, and the spunk of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Also- it is the first of a trilogy which makes it even more worth reading!!!
Read this with my blessing as a fantasy-obsessed librarian! You will not be disappointed!
Five stars. Ages 10+.