Friday, June 29, 2012

Howl's Moving Castle

 By Diana Wynne Jones
3.5 / 5 Gnomes

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. 

~Amazon Description~

There's a reason I always try to read a book before watching a movie.  When you read a book first, you get to let your imagination run wild, creating character, design settings, and building a world that you can get lost in without much effort.  When you see the movie first, someone has done all of the work for you, which, for a a person with a HUGE imagination, is often a total letdown.  

But sometimes you love the movie, and you try really hard to love the book just as much, but it just doesn't work.  Hayao Miyazaki is a genius.  Really...he's a genius.  His animation is beautiful, and his storytelling abilities are whimsical and emotional.  The Howl in the movie had just the right touch of stubbornness, deceit, and heart.  I admit it, I might have formed a bit of a crush in no small part because he is voiced by the studly Christian Bale.  I never really formed that connection with the Howl in the book.  He was so self-absorbed that it was sometimes difficult to find the spark of good in him.  Sure, that spark was there in the end, but you had to wait for the end of the books to really see it.  Sophie was extra...grumpy I guess.  (So not meaning to stereotype), but she really came off as a bitter senior citizen.  And the ending felt a little rushed.  All of the sudden everything seemed to be concluding at once.  I felt like I was trying to catch up a bit.

That being said, I did enjoy the book, and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel that has not been turned into a movie.  Maybe I'll be able to dream bigger than the world created by Miyazaki and see the story that Wynne Jones has created for myself.  Luckily, I don't have to wait for the end of the trilogy!  Mark one off my summer-must-read list!

If you liked the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede or Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling consider Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.

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