Whenever I have a bad day I watch Howl’s Moving Castle. It’s just something I do, so I was bound to read the novel the film was loosely based on. Diana Wynne Jones is now forever engraved in my mind as the epitome of a fantasy writer.
Is it Howl’s cavalier personality, or Sophie’s practicality that keeps me reading? Perhaps it’s Howl’s resident fire demon, Calcifer, or the fact that Howl’s castle door is actually a portal that opens onto four different places? It’s everything and more. The tongue-in-cheek pokes at fairy tale clichés are funny. Sophie doesn’t expect anything exciting to happen to her as she’s the eldest (and as we all know in fairy tales exciting things only happen to the youngest.)
And being the eldest is certainly turned on its heels when Sophie ends up offending the Witch of the Waste who literally turns her into an old lady.
The odd and magical thing is that after this transformation is when Sophie finally starts learning about herself and becoming an awesome heroine. Before she was shy and led a tedious life in a hat shop, but once she aged she really didn’t care what people thought of her. Howl is deliciously her opposite, where she is practical he is nonsensical, shallow and vain. Of course in the most likable way. Each character balances the other. This book takes you through such a fun adventurous journey. One everyone should take at least once.
On a sad note, R.I.P Diana Wynne Jones, who died today after a long battle with lung cancer. You’ll never be forgotten as your words and stories will forever be engraved in our hearts.