Monday, 15 August 2011

Diana Wynne Jones - Howl's Moving Castle

Title: Howl's Moving Castle (Castle series, book 1)
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Pub. year: 2009
Pages: 304
Editor: HarperCollins Children's Books

Summary: In the land of Ingary, such things as spells, invisible cloaks, and seven-league boots were everyday things. The Witch of the Waste was another matter. After fifty years of quiet, it was rumored that the Witch was about to terrorize the country again. So when a moving black castle, blowing dark smoke from its four thin turrets, appeared on the horizon, everyone thought it was the Witch. The castle, however, belonged to Wizard Howl, who, it was said, liked to suck the souls of young girls.
The Hatter sisters--Sophie, Lettie, and Martha--and all the other girls were warned not to venture into the streets alone. But that was only the beginning.
In this giant jigsaw puzzle of a fantasy, people and things are never quite what they seem. Destinies are intertwined, identities exchanged, lovers confused. The Witch has placed a spell on Howl. Does the clue to breaking it lie in a famous poem? And what will happen to Sophie Hatter when she enters Howl's castle?

After telling you about all those authors I love, I couldn't miss on the great Diana Wynne Jones, the one who—though I didn't know it at the time—wrote the book that inspired Hayao Miyazaki's eponym movie, one of my ever favorites. I am not going to tell you about this movie, but really, you should see it. Best animation movie ever—or close to be. So back to business: Diana Wynne Jones. Not only the lady was an amazing story teller, she had a way with words that makes them almost as magic as her stories. With a little down-to-earth and lots of demon/magic formulas/potions/sorcerers/moving castle, she brews this kind of story that makes you open your eyes wide and find again in yourself this little excitement that you had when you were a kid, and that some of us still have. Or is it because some of us are still kids?

This "Castle series" is composed of three books. In the first one, we follow the strong willed Sophie, changed into an old lady by the Witch of the Waste, who gets on board of Howl's moving castle. Howl is reputed to be a terrible magician eating ladies' hearts, but in fact he's just a gigolo, slightly lazy and stubborn, who made a pact with a fire demon—the delightfully funny Calcifer, in charge of moving the Castle. Sophie will try to break the promise binding them together while visiting the country and trying herself at magic, of course! In the second book, meet Abdullah, who by an extraordinary set of events finds himself a magic carpet, and meets a princess to save from the claws of an evil being. In this Arabian Nights atmosphere, we follow him and his annoying bottle genius to the rescue of not one, but a whole bunch of princesses... including Sophie, of course! In the third book, a young lady called Charmain is called to tend the house of a sick magician. The house has many tricks in its pocket for her, and while she tries to be a good helper at the royal castle's library, she will have to solve a mystery with the great Howl himself...

If Howl and Sophie are the constant characters of the series, you won't see them that often. What you will see is loads of original characters, magic everywhere, great adventures, mysteries and suspense... well, everything that makes a perfect fantasy book. Kids or not kids, who could deny the talent of the wonderful Diana Wynne Jones?

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