Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynee Jones Retro Friday Book Review

Retro Friday Reviews are hosted by Angieville. Basically you review an older book on Fridays. It’s pretty cool, you should participate!! Check out my previous Retro Friday Reviews by clicking here.

Book Review: Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

You know those books that pretty much anyone who is a fantasy fan has read? I’m slowly making my way through those books, with Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones at the top of my pile. Oh, friends, Diana Wynne Jones absolutely did not disappoint. We have a cranky old woman, a vain heartbreaker wizard, a fire demon, a witch and a fantastic storyline.

Howl's Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones, Book Cover

Howl's Moving Castle

You see, Sophie is a hatter (because her last name is Hatter, she makes hats) and lives with her two sisters, Martha and Lettie. Her sisters leave for apprenticeships and Sophie is stuck with the family business. Yet Sophie believes the eldest is not destined for great adventure and fortune and is resigned to her hatmaking fate. Honestly, a smarter person than I could puzzle out a determinism versus fate theme, but I won’t go into that sort of analysis. As bad luck would have it, the evil Witch Of The Waste enters Sophie’s shop, is unsatisfied and turns Sophie into a 90 year old woman. Sophie, believing no one will recognize or know her decides to seek refuge with the wizard Howl, known throughout Ingary for eating the hearts of young women.

Yo, you can totally trust the Brits when it comes to children’s fantasy, these people are solid. Howl’s Moving Castle was all that I expected it to be – whimsical, magical, and a place for me to revel in my favorite character trope: cranky old ladies. Diana Wynne Jones’ characterization is pitch perfect – from practical talks to objects Sophie, to Calcifer the fire demon who wants out of his contract, to Howl who initially comes off as spoiled and selfish yet there’s more to him than meets the eye. Jones has created a cast of dynamic three dimensional characters.

The story is told in a way that never condescends to the reader. I never felt talked down to or that the narration was treating children as though they were stupid. Instead, I felt as though I was reading a fairytale of yore, and guys I totally love that feeling.

My only complaint is aesthetic, and that is the print in my copy hurt my eyes when I read it for too long, but that’s easily fixed if you read this on an ereader instead of in print.

Howl’s Moving Castle is absorbing with a few surprise twists. I have a feeling that I will become good friends, or very well acquainted with Diana Wynne Jones’ work, as her books are exactly what I love as far as fantasy goes – strong characterization, an imaginative plot, and excellent writing.

Disclosure: Purchased Copy.

Other reviews of Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones:

Fantasy Book Cafe
Forever Young Adult
Chachic’s Book Nook

Purchase Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones here.*FYI I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if you buy things from Amazon after clicking link.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I LOVE Howl’s Moving Castle. Me>obsessed. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get through the second book, and the third wasn’t so good. I recommend not reading them. (I had the same issue with My Side of the Mountain, though that one was worse.)

  2. I love this book, though my favorite of Jones’s books are those in the Chrestomanci series. I think the first book of hers that I read was The Lives of Christopher Chant so it holds a special place in my heart.

  3. I’m going to see the film adaptation of this book soon, although I’d rather read the book first. But I’ll go for whatever is at hand right now. ^_^

  4. I read this one for the first time this year and I just loved it. I don’t know how I’ve missed her work for so long.

  5. Oh, I love the story of Howl! but I gotta confess that I liked the movie just a little bit more. I found that Howl more appealing, but maybe that’s just it because I saw the movie first!!
    Still it was a sweet read! 😀

  6. I’m so glad you loved this! It (along with I Capture the Castle) was a Fiona push that I read and fell in love with. DWJ really does have the gift of whimsy/fairy tales. Such a good book.

  7. next up, watch the movie. calcifer is everything you hoped he would be!

  8. Haha! Sounds like fun! I do really need to get this one read!

  9. I’ve decided to read this after reading your review. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! It sounds like a book I’d love.

  10. Thanks for linking to my review! I left a comment before but I think WordPress ate it. Anywho, I’m so glad you loved this because it’s my favorite DWJ novel. I love Howl and Sophie. 🙂 I read the two companion novels to this just because I wanted to see more of Howl and Sophie and they were good reads but not as excellent as this one.


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