Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Series: yes - first of 3 (Howl's Moving Castle)
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
Short summary of the story: Sophie is the oldest daughter of three siblings in the land of Ingary. In her world, the order in which a person is born into the family decrees what your life will be like. Not only does Diana have 2 younger sisters, one of them is a half-sister and both of them are prettier than she is. So while her prettier, and younger, siblings get to go off to explore the world and do what they want (so she thinks) she has to mind the hat shop that her father established. Her name, Diana Hatter, refers both to her family name and to her occupation. All of this changes, however, when her talents get the attention of a very nasty witch, and she ends up going off on adventures of her own. She meets a dog, a scarecrow, a castle which flies in the air ... a demon ... all kinds of creatures and things of the world in which she lives!
My own feelings about the book - I've read that this is a greatly loved book and I can see how that is so. However, as with somethings which are greatly loved, like chocolate, there are some who really don't care that much for chocolate but occasionally have a craving for it. Howl's Moving Castle is sort of like that. I can see how it is greatly loved and yet, to me, it's sort of ... this could have been done differently. While it is, as I state below, a quirky, strange and wonderful story, that is mostly because of the heroine of the book. I find the whole idea of a moving castle, which flies about and settles here and there sort of improbable. What happens to the things it lands on? Do they magically disappear? As for the wizard Howl, why did the heroine stay there with him? I read this and wonder 'where is this story going to?' Then, when I find out that a lot of it is based on misunderstandings and misinformations (which really aren't straightened out at the end of the story), I was not inclined to pick up the next book and read it. I edited this with my own feelings. I'd not said how I felt about it, in my initial review (unlike all the other reviews I've posted, except for Ember, which I also edited). My own viewpoint of this story is not the sunniest in the world and I didn't want to post that which might cause others, who might otherwise read the story and love it, to not read it. However, there it is.
Good reads write-up
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.
This is a lovely, quirky, strange and wonderful story.