I had a difficult time getting into the story the first time I read it. I remember that distinctly. It seemed like the same old same old of fairy tales,of the mother dying and an acquired stepmother and a sister and then a stepsister added to the mix. Then the father dies and they are left without resources.
And all of this happens in the first four pages! But that was the first time of reading it ... and even then, by the end of the first chapter,even more things happen
and the plot slowly thickens. Oh, it's getting sort of interesting! (Now I continue with this time of reading it, for current observations and ideas.)'Don't get the Witch of the Waste upset!'
because there will be repercussions! seems to be the theme of Chapter 2. I found it sort of amusing that Sophie finds out about her talents in such a way that she ends up having her body turned into that of an old woman, a very old woman, and has to deal with it. Suddenly all the upsets that she found so overwhelming (as a teenager) just don't seem so large anymore.
But ... the thing is, and this is where I start to like her, she chooses to deal with it.
Did I mention that serendipity plays a large role in this book so far? Well, yes it does.
Chapters 3 and 4 ...we get into the actualities of the Moving Castle and Howl and the other occupants of the Castle. Sophie has a firm conviction that Howl can free her of this spell -- or at least that is allegedly why she decides to stay there. I don't particularly like Howl, but I'm not required to like him! I am, however, beginning to develop a certain respect for Sophie, who develops an ability to accept the oddity of a castle which does move around, and different doors go to different places and in fact, the whole thing is magical.
This is the second time I've read the book. Somehow, the first time I read the book (a few months ago), I missed some of the data here - or it didn't sink in! When I read it this second time, there was a huge 'ah ha!' moment. "Howl and Calcifer invented the castle," Michael explained, "and Calcifer keeps it going. The inside of it is really just Howl's old house in Porthaven, which is the only real part."
This is getting interesting!