Such a weird and amazing read! Diana Wynne Jones takes standard fairy tale and fantasy elements--a girl coming of age, wizards, witches, shapeshifters, a scarecrow, demons, a questionable stepmother, castles, princes and kings--and does something utterly unique with them. I've never read anything like Howl's Moving Castle
. What to say of a story where everything's exponentially stranger than initially thought? I loved it.
Sophie's such a cool character. Unlike a typical fairy tale, she doesn't need a knight in shining armor to rescue her from danger or an ennui-filled existence. Sophie's tenacious in going after a better life. And what a fantastic grump she is as an old woman! Her courage and no-nonsense approach stand in stark contrast to Howl's careless-but-fearful way of being. There'll be nothing easy about Sophie and Howl's happily ever after. They anticipate an "eventful",'"hair-raising" and exploitive life together.
My one criticism of Howl's Moving Castle
is the fever-pitched ending. A host of people and storylines come crashing together in the end. So much happens in the final 10 pages! I could have used a little gentler winding down to affairs. But maybe a hectic ending is just what a hair-raising ever after demands. Whatever the case, my criticism of the ending doesn't rise to the level of docking a star from my rating. Five stars all the way for this one.