Book Review: “Howl’s Moving Castle”

“Howl’s Moving Castle” by Diana Wynne Jones

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy

Source: Library

Summary from Goodreads:

In the land of Ingary, such things as spells, invisible cloaks, and seven-league boots were everyday things. The Witch of the Waste was another matter.

After fifty years of quiet, it was rumored that the Witch was about to terrorize the country again. So when a moving black castle, blowing dark smoke from its four thin turrets, appeared on the horizon, everyone thought it was the Witch. The castle, however, belonged to Wizard Howl, who, it was said, liked to suck the souls of young girls.

The Hatter sisters–Sophie, Lettie, and Martha–and all the other girls were warned not to venture into the streets alone. But that was only the beginning.

In this giant jigsaw puzzle of a fantasy, people and things are never quite what they seem. Destinies are intertwined, identities exchanged, lovers confused. The Witch has placed a spell on Howl. Does the clue to breaking it lie in a famous poem? And what will happen to Sophie Hatter when she enters Howl’s castle?


That summary wasn’t lying about this book being a jigsaw puzzle.  I found the book a bit confusing to say the least. Each chapter felt a bit episodic in nature and was a bit slow moving towards the larger story. I guess normally that’s not a huge deal but I was reading the book only on my lunch break so I had a hard time picking up and stopping the book. I just couldn’t properly orient myself within the story. I also thought the storyline was a bit all over the place. I had a hard time remembering what was going on, who’s who, what had already happened, etc.

The characters definitely made me enjoy the book. Howl’s personality is larger than the book. He’s definitely a bit of a drama queen which I loved. His exaggerations and snark were hilarious. Examples:

“I’m dying of boredom,” Howl said pathetically. “Or maybe just dying.”


“I’m going up to my room now, where I may die.”

Sophie didn’t let her current condition change how she acted. She was a feisty old lady (which is the  best kind of old lady). I did find it a little odd that she was able to shove her way into the castle and no one thought it was weird. It was also a little odd that she just made herself at home and they didn’t have a problem with it. I guess it’s best not to question these things. The other characters weren’t as stand out as the two of them but I liked them well enough. The ending was a bit too cutesy and perfect for my taste.

The bottom line? It was enjoyable but I didn’t love it.


14 thoughts on “Book Review: “Howl’s Moving Castle”

  1. Howl’s Moving Castle has been on my TBR list for quite some time. I have heard good things about it, but I just never get around to reading it. I do want to read it, but based on your review, I don’t think I will rush to get a copy of the books.

  2. Oh I remember loving this book, but I did listen to an audiobook so maybe that helped. Definitely the characters are the best part of it for me too. Very interesting to read your thoughts on it, great post!

  3. ooh, I listened to audiobook for this one and remembered loving it. I don’t remember finding it confusing at all although I have to agree the ending was very “cutesy” but I loved that ha ha ha 🙂

  4. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the book, but sorry you didn’t love it. I was so completely charmed by Diana Wynne Jones’ writing that the the all-over-ness of the storyline didn’t bother me at all. And I LOVED Howl. He’s totally a drama queen, but the best possible kind, I thought.

    Have you read anything else by her? This was my first Diana Wynne Jones and I’ve been meaning to read more of her stuff.

    • He’s definitely the best type of drama queen. Normally that behavior annoys me but I found it charming with him.

      I haven’t! I’d like to get around to Charmed Life at some point. I know Anastasia really loves it so that’s a good enough recommendation for me.

  5. I prefered the sort-of sequel, Castle in the Air, to Howl’s Moving Castle. It’s a lot more linear and easy to follow. I think the first book achieves much of its praise from the quality of the characters and the enjoyability of the writing, even though the story is a bit all over the place, to the extent that I can’t remember much of it despite having read the book and seen the film! The film is fairly similar to the book, but everyone I know thinks it is much better to read the book first, as the film lacks a lot of the depth.

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