Monday, January 16, 2012

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Howl's Moving Castle
Diana Wynne Jones
Narrated by Jenny Sterlin
Published April 14, 1986

Bite-sized Review
I really enjoyed this book. It was fun and clever, and Jenny Sterlin did a great job narrating. Pick this one up if you want a fairy tale sort of book, but with unexpected laughs and some truly touching moments.

King-sized Review
Sophie is the eldest. She's always accepted that this will mean she will never be able to seek her fortune elsewhere – only youngest, and sometimes middle daughters can do that without mucking it up. So she is mostly content to work in her father's hat shop. But when the Witch of the Waste transforms her from a young woman into an old crone, she ventures off to find some way to fix her problem.

Howl's Moving Castle was great in so many ways. It was very silly in a dry, understated sort of way (think Robin McKinley or Patricia C. Wrede's Enchanted Forest books). I love that sort of writing, so this book was great for me. Though I did think the plot dragged a bit in the middle, otherwise it was quite good – entertaining, mysterious, and loveably frustrating.

I've never read a story quite like this one before – it reads mostly like a fairy tale but takes all your assumptions and turns them on their head. Okay, that's not entirely new either, but the old woman part was. Originally I was interested in this book because Maggie Stiefvater loved it and I think she's awesome, and I quickly realized that this is the kind of story I absolutely adored.

My favorite character was definitely Calcifer the fire demon. I don't know if it was the voice or just Calcifer, but there was just something so funny about him. He reminded me a little of Marvin from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, only a bit nicer and less depressing. All of the characters were entirely lovable, except for the evil ones of course.

This book has the kind of love story I love to read. It's so much fun when everyone except for the characters themselves realizes they're in love, and it makes me so very happy when things finally do work out. It always helps, too, when there's plenty else going on to distract them from their situation. The way everything came together was wonderful. I was grinning like an idiot on the bus while listening to the end of this book. It's rare that I unreservedly love an ending, but this one was just perfect.

This was the first audiobook that I've listened to and actually liked. (See my post on audiobooks in general.) Jenny Sterlin's narration was excellent, with recognizably different voices that fit the characters extraordinarily well. Her tone managed to match the feel I got from the books, too; I just had so much fun listening to this one.

Howl's Moving Castle most definitely found a place in my heart. I will be reading more of Diana Wynne Jones's books just as soon as I can get my hands on them.

Quality: Excellent
Enjoyability: Excellent

Howl's Moving Castle is similar to:
Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
Spindle's End by Robin McKinley
Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia A. McKillip

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