Summary Diana Wynne Jones’ “Howl’s Moving Castle”

What we liked about the novel:

  • Liked the writing style, simple yet effective, tone of the characters mirrored the emotions, simple language worked with the story
  • Tone of the book interesting: old-fashioned, felt like a children’s book, very adult topics
  • Characters –> individual feeling to them
  • Calcifer
  • Hands-on magic approach –> potion, powders
  • Setting of the book great, inside of the castle, cozy, village, shops, life-like, endearing, little town, so many details, doors unique and yet interesting
  • Take on age –> great, perks of being older; “old people are supposed to be weird”, vs. ageism, everybody has to be young and beautiful
  • Cozy feeling that the book gave me: welcoming, distraction
  • Meta-comments: referencing Shakespeare, Alice in Wonderland, fairy tale stereotypes (number 3)
  • The Eldest: new take on fairy tales
  • How everything came together: random meetings, frees the dog, all characters return in some way –> neat
  • Funny, hilarious
  • Expression of emotions vs. completely ignores them
  • Sophie as the protagonist à transformation: accepts –> speaks like an old woman –> realizes it’s shock or trauma later; moment of transformation well written; she isn’t even mad at first
  • Howl: we loved him, defending the spiders, chaotic, all over the place, seems simple but is fairly complex as a character, drama queen, powerful, talented, capable, so many flaws, logic: has to fake that he’s not doing it à in order to be able to do it –> not fond of fighting
  • Sophie IMBA –> character growth, talking magic into things
  • Female nemesis
  • Insistent on keeping his dirty room –> stubborn
  • Misled at the beginning –> “teeth” –> bathroom products à beauty products
  • The sisters: cheeky, cute, everyone was in love with “Lettie” (several ones of them)

What did you dislike?

  • Couldn’t be placed entirely: fairy tale, wizards / witches, portal quest, Wales –> what was the novel aiming at? –> cannot be easily placed: man stitched together from two others (gruesome); book can be read by children and adults alike –> positive: mixture of genres; added a lot of complexity –> smaller elements that made the story more interesting and not predictable
  • Too many characters –> confusing; mixed identities
  • Ending: rushed, confusing, unclear
  • Portal fantasy thing weird, fun but weird
  • Wales interesting; but weird as contrast; anachronisms –> nobody cared
  • Other worlds just a bit random; no explanation –> how did they end up there?
  • Movie Howl better
  • Problematic parts: womanizer identity now problematic and not as funny as when we read it as a kid; performance annoying –> this is where we prefer the movie
  • Plotlines confusing –> too many plotlines –> confusing –> importance weird –> a bit much

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