The Blurb (from Goodreads):
Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.
Diana Wynne Jones was one of my favourite authors growing up, but for some reason I never read Howl’s Moving Castle before – even though it’s one of her most famous and celebrated books. So I thought I’d address this omission in my reading, and snuggled down with a copy.
It’s an utterly charming children’s fantasy set in a magical world not unlike our own. The heroine Sophie thinks she’s utterly ordinary, and hasn’t much expectations of her future. One day, she is cursed by the wicked Witch of the Waste and finds herself turned into an old woman, with all the aches and pains one would expect. She doesn’t want anyone to know, and so runs away. Eventually she takes shelter in the Wizard Howl’s moving castle, even though he is rumoured to eat young girls’ hearts. Sophie figures he won’t want her heart, which is now old and faulty. Having always been timid and shy, Sophie also decides she might as well speak up for herself too, since old women are allowed to be ornery and outspoken. A series of funny misadventures follows, as Sophie gradually works out that she has powerful magic of her own, and sets out to defeat the Witch of the Waste. A quite delightful book from Diana Wynne Jones, as always.