Author: Dianna Wynne Jones
Release Date: April 14th, 1986
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins)
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.
Now, I had HIGH expectations for this book. If you didn't know, Howl's Moving Castle is one of my favorite movies of all time, so when I decided to take a crack at the book, I was nervous! But you don't even have to worry because the book and the movie are two COMPLETELY different things and I didn't find myself comparing them plot-wise at any moment!
The book is still centered around Sophie and the fact that she is turned into an old lady by the Witch of the Waste because Sophie is a BIC* and that lady wishes she could be as awesome as her (you didn't think I was actually going to tell you the reason, right?) So when Sophie goes on a journey to try to turn herself back into a young girl, she stumbles upon Howl's Moving Castle, where three people live: Calcifer: a fire demon who is stuck in this house forever and ever; Michael: a fifteen year old boy (in the movie, he's like eight! I was like: WHAT) who is Howl's apprentice; and Howl: resident drama king and all-around powerful wizard and loving prick.
Book Sophie is hilarious. She's the eldest of three and in this magic world THE ELDEST GETS NOTHING. The youngest is the one who gets to marry money and have a happy life but the eldest? They have to work and inherit the family business and do boring stuff like make hats. I mean, there's a point where Sophie is inside so much that she's afraid to go outside! But the minute she turns into an old lady? She's a feisty thing! Her and Howl argue constantly and she isn't going to let him run her over with his attitude like he does Michael! Plus, nothing phases her. She sees she's an old lady and instead of wigging out and crying and going crazy, she's just like: "Well, better get out of here before Mom gets home."
The plot is a lot more complicated in the book than it is in the movie! Sophie has more than one sister and they play a big role in the story (instead of in the movie, where Lettie gets one scene where they talk about how Howl eats the souls of pretty girls) as well as the fact that people who are alive in the movie are DEAD IN THE BOOK. I was like -- what?! But all in all, it flowed well and sent me on a whirlwind of a story.
And then we have side-characters. Michael had to be my favorite; he was kind and funny and put up with Howl's insanity, which is more than I can say for a lot of people. Calcifer was the same as in the movie, which I approved of, and then we get to Howl. In the back of the book Jones talks about how in the movie, Sophie and Howl are a lot more gentle and noble and this is so true. Howl can be a total prick sometimes in the book! He's dramatic and unreliable and unpredictable but he's also sweet and loving and complex. Their relationship is hilarious and adorable and I like that there's never a dull moment between them!
Overall, the book and the movie are two total separate entities but equally wonderful!
*BIC - b**** in charge (used on heroines who are assertive, reliable, and go after what they want!)