Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

These days all I read is Diana Wynne Jones. I reread Howl’s Moving Castle the other day and found it even more endearing and enchanting then the first three times or so. Okay, so I do tend to reread my favourite books a little aggressively but I guess most bookworms share this vice. Oh, yes the book.. Howl is one of the most unheroic heroes you will ever find. He is lazy, selfish, self-centred, egoist and heartless. Rumour is that he eats the hearts of young girls. But for all his failings, he is a popular favourite with all Diana Jones fans including me. It is set in the magical land of Ingary where things such as seven league boots and invisibility cloaks are not just fairy tales. And one of the fairy tale truths of this land is that the eldest of three will never be successful. Meet Sophie Hatter, our heroine who has the misfortune of being the eldest of three sisters and who is more or less resigned to her fate. But fate has other plans for her. Our Sophie has the ability to talk life into things. But of course, she is clueless about her talent. She unwittingly becomes the target of the Witch of the Waste, a very villainous villain who casts a spell on Sophie turning her into an old woman. Sophie leaves the hat shop which she owns with her stepmother and sets off…somewhere. On the way, she talks a scarecrow into life, who keeps cropping up throughout the book and giving a turn to poor Sophie’s old heart. But of course, the scarecrow is not really a scarecrow! Oh and did I tell you, Sophie’s second sister Lettie is not really Lettie and her youngest sister Martha is not Martha of course! You know Diana Jones better than that. Coming back to Sophie, she encounters the notorious wizard Howl’s moving castle on the way and being old with creaky, achy legs she barges into his house and somehow convinces him to stay on as his cleaning lady. There she strikes a bargain with Calcifer (I looove Calcifer!), his fire demon to break his curse of captivity in return for turning her back into her youthful self. Many wizardly tantrums, much pointless cleaning and lots of magic brings us to the climax where a dishevelled, cowardly Howl confronts the Witch of the Waste (whom he has always been extremely eager to avoid) to save Sophie. Its prose when I write this but its magic when you read the book. I will say no more. Read this book if you haven’t already. And if you have, you can always read it again. Just like me 😊

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