Whether you’ve seen the Studio Ghibli rendition or not, Diana Wynne Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle is an unconventional fairy tale that will enchant those willing enough to read it. It’s a bit odd, the entire plot: a young girl is transfigured into a 90-year-old woman, runs away, and ends up finding employment of sorts in an ever-moving castle. A castle, by the way, that is controlled by a witty, grousing fire demon, attended to by a young, endearing apprentice, and owned by a moody, mysterious wizard.
Although rumors have run amok concerning the dietary habits of thisWizard Howl (namely, that he eats girls’ hearts), he is not what one would expect from an evil wizard. Nor is Sophie Hatter–the girl-turned-old-woman–what one expects from a hero, either. Down many roads–bumpy and less so–Jones weaves a magical tale in a voice so reminiscent of soothing grandmotherly tones that anyone with an ear for fantasy will be charmed by.
Those who find all such tales laughable shouldn’t waste their time.