I enjoyed this novel to the fullest. I chose to read it last summer before I watched the movie, but let it fall to the wayside sadly (I also shamefully have not seen the movie yet). I regret having waited so long, because this book was so extremely enjoyable. I started it last Saturday night at around midnight and finished it Monday around two AM. I hope this expresses what a fast read this book is. The great thing is that I was entertained the whole time. The book was not a fast read because it was simple, young, or boring. It was wonderful to read in every way and I highly recommend it for all readers.
The story is about a young girl named Sophie who believes that she will never amount to anything because she is the eldest daughter. She labors away in a boring hat shop without any excitement in her life until a sudden event results in her being turned into a 90-year-old woman by an evil spell. Sophie is unable to change herself back, so she leaves her home on an adventure to seek out the “evil wizard Howl, who eats the souls of young girls”. Sophie finds Howl in his magnificent moving castle and begins to travel with the exceedingly strange wizard, his apprentice Michael, and his fire demon Calcifer. The lively crew has many adventures and must adjust to the presence of Sophie, who doesn’t take any nonsense. They travel around the country as Sophie tries to unravel the magic of the spell and understand the mystery that surrounds Howl.
The characters in this story are all very likable and realistic. Sophie is no-nonsense and does not indulge Howl and his ridiculous mannerisms. She is often seen as causing a ruckus as she cleans like a demon and slowly develops a magic of her own. She is fiercely protective, yet shows a very human amount of jealously and frustration with her younger sisters and her castle companions. Howl is also very entertaining and surprisingly likable despite his frequent tantrums and misdemeanors. I find the whole story and its various characters very likable because I enjoyed reading even chapter and often found myself smiling to myself.
The story in general is very well written. Jones is able to tell several disconnecting stories in each chapter and successfully string them together to make the overall story make sense. I found the ending very nice, and perfect in a way, because by the end, I realized that the whole rest of the story had been leading up to the ending. There were also several nice revelations and surprises within the plot that made the book more fun. I was still thinking about how much I loved the ending the day after I finished, which I think means something about the quality of the story.
I would recommend this story to both adult and teen readers because it is a very fun read and doesn’t take too much time out of your day. It is light but not shallow, and the characters are extremely lovable. I suggest this book for anyone who is looking for a really good time that will put a smile on their face. I give this book a 4.5/5 for my book project.