March 7, 2018

Series for a Sick Day: Howl's Moving Castle

I have been down the past week and half--or has it been 2 weeks now? with sickness. Possibly flu, even though I got my shot. The crud. Basically. I thought I was mostly better, than got hit with a second round this past weekend.

So, what do I turn to? Why, books, of course! Usually books that I already know I'll like, to be specific. I have realized that a good deal of my reading is for escape or comfort. Even though my life is not nearly as stressful as most of yours, probably. Sometimes I'm up for a challenge in books, but many times, I just want to travel to a new but familiar place in my imagination.

I'm okay with that. I've made some goals to stretch my boundaries with that a bit, but in the meantime, bring on the comfort reads!

One of the days, I pulled up a list of all the books on my kindle app (on my phone) and scrolled down through to see what I had read. I came across Howl's Moving Castle, by Dianne Wynne Jones, and I knew I had found what I needed to get me through another day on the couch.

If you've never read it, it's quirky, middle grade fantasy. Each of the 3 books is set in the same world, but with different main characters. In the later books, you get glimpses of characters from the first, which makes it more fun.

Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle #1), by Diana Wynne Jones
5 stars: Original and completely delightful.

Sophie is the eldest of 3, and not even the daughter of a poor woodcutter. So basically, she has no chance to make her way in the world. After all, it's always the youngest that's the big success. Her stepmother is actually nice. When the girls' father dies, they have to be apprenticed to various places in town, except for Sophie who stays to run the hat shop.

Then she is changed into an old woman, due to a curse by the Witch of the Waste. She figures the only person who can help her is the evil wizard Howl, who's castle has been roving the hills for several weeks now, making everyone dreadfully nervous. Off she stumps to catch the castle. She doesn't know that at the castle her destiny awaits.

 Sophie and Howl can't help but clash all the time, and it's highly entertaining for the rest of us.


Castle in the Air (Howl's Moving Castle #2), by Diana Wynne Jones
4 stars: A poor carpet merchant gets a chance to live his dreams...for better or worse.

Abdullah is a carpet merchant who dreams of much more--a more exciting past, a more romantic future. Then one day a stranger sells him a magic carpet and that very night he is whisked away into one of his daydreams. He meets a lovely girl named Flower-in-the-Night, but he also meets her angry father. He is fated to be "raised above all others in the land," based on a prophecy his father paid for when Abdullah was just young. Now he's not sure, though, if that means great wealth or at the end of a noose!

When his lovely Flower-in-the-Night gets snatched away to a castle in the air, Abdullah is determined to rescue her. He has adventures of all sorts along the way. He falls in with a cunning mercenary and very reluctantly, with a demon cat and her kitten. The magic carpet is a point. The surly genie in the bottle, likewise. If he's going to ever retrieve his princess, he's going to have to stop wasting wishes, somehow get up to that castle, and then...a plan will materialize. He hopes.

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2014: This was great fun--witty and charming. It's been a long time since I read "Howl's Moving Castle." It made me want to look it up again.

re-read Dec 2015: Mostly skimmed it, to remind myself of the story. I remembered some of the surprise identities, but not all. Still enjoyable the second time through.

2/25/18: I enjoyed the flowery language of Abdullah's culture this time around, especially in contrast to the more blunt way of speaking employed by the northerners. 

House of Many Ways (Howl's Moving Castle #3), by Diana Wynne Jones
3 stars: My least favorite of the 3, but still good fun.

Charmain is sent to her Uncle's, to look after his house while he is away being healed by the Elves. She hasn't had any magical training, and the house is very magical. Fortunately, her uncle has left answers to most questions--all she has to do is ask.

Then a boy named Peter comes along, claiming to be an apprentice of her uncle's. Oh yes, and she gets a job in the palace, helping the King sort out his library. The kingdom is about to go bankrupt, and the King feels sure that the answer to where their wealth has gone can be found amongst the papers and books in the library.

Our old friends, Sophie and Howl, are also called in to help investigate, along with their little boy. However, it's Charmain who has all the pieces of the puzzle, if she can just put them together.

* * * * *
Sophie and Howl are the brightest parts of the story, but Charmain manages to hold her own. The Lubbock was sufficiently creepy. The breeding laundry was pretty awesome, as were Peter and Charmain's domestic travails.


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What are your main reasons for reading? Escape? Enlightenment? To collect facts?
Does that reasoning change when you're stressed or sick?

Do tell!


  1. One of my favorite books (I love everything by Diana Wynne Jones!) since jr high- I loved the movie too 😄

    1. I need to track down the movie; I've never seen it!