Why Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones is my favourite book

Libraries in West Sussex have started a phased reintroduction of services with a Select and Collect option from the front doors of all 36 library buildings.

Thursday, 23rd July 2020, 4:44 pm
Rose Cable - My Favourite Book

To take advantage of this service, visit their website: https://arena.westsussex.gov.uk/web/arena/currentoffer/library-reservations In the meantime, we are keeping in touch with librarians across the county by asking them about their favourite book. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones is the choice from Rose Cable, library assistant at East Grinstead

“It was pretty hard to choose my favourite book as I must have hundreds on my bookshelf and I always have my nose in one, sometimes to such an extent that everything else gets put aside. I have been known to read a whole hardback book with nearly four hundred pages in a day! So for someone that reads all the time, picking a single book to be your favourite is a task and a half!

“However, I did eventually manage to narrow it down and the book I picked is Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, a children’s fantasy novel originally published in 1987. Mine is the HarperCollins 2009 edition, now with a rather cracked spine from the endless times I have reread this book!

“I actually watched the anime film by Studio Ghibli first when I was around fifteen, as at Easter there was a massive Studio Ghibli season on Film4 and it was the first one I ever watched. I was totally entranced by the animation, the beautiful music and the lovely story of an 18-year-old girl who is spelled into becoming a 90-year-old woman by a vengeful witch and decides to make the best of things by making her way to the castle of the supposedly evil Wizard Howl. Sophie then enters into a bargain with Howl’s fire demon Calcifer, which states that if she breaks the curse on him and Howl, then they will break the curse on her and somehow manages to wind up as the castle’s cleaning lady in the process. The voice talents of Christian Bale as Howl, Emily Mortimer as Young Sophie and Billy Crystal as Calcifer perfectly encapsulate the characters on screen so when I discovered it was actually an adaptation of a book, I was very excited and of course, had to read it.

“This is one of the few times where I love book and film equally and have returned to both many, many times over the years even though the book differs to the film as there isn’t a war going on and Howl is a little bit more heroic in the film. However he is just as dramatic in both formats.

“The book itself is wonderfully written with some especially funny passages (the chapter where Howl has a cold, and then another chapter where Howl goes into a tantrum because his hair has gone a different colour are particularly hilarious) and is full of magic, monsters and mayhem.

“I must have read this book at least seven times, if not more and am forever recommending it to people. A few of my friends have read it and have loved it equally as much as I have, finding the characters easy to like, funny and the world building phenomenal. I only noticed when I was older that there are little hints throughout the book that either Calcifer or Howl drop about their curse, which I loved discovering; as well as figuring out that all the illustrations on the cover relate to something happening in the book (there’re spiders for Sophie’s new job as a cleaning lady, a thimble for all of Howl’s suits which Sophie cuts up, shampoo for the disastrous hair trouble among others) and always find something new to discover in the book every time I pick it back up.

“I’ve read the other two books (Castle in the Air and House of Many Ways) and like those as well, but Howl’s Moving Castle is my favourite of the three for its magic-driven plot, feisty heroine, funny fire demon and charming wizard. It’s a perfect comfort read for any day of the week, for any age.”