Reading this book’s sequel House of Many Ways, I was moved to go watch Howl’s animated movie which led me to reread this book…only I don’t think I’ve read this since I was a college girl in the 80’s soon after it was published. About the only thing I remembered was Howl’s real name so it was like reading it for the first time.
Sophie Hatter is the eldest of three sisters, living in a land where fairy tales are somewhat true so she is convinced that her birth order has doomed her to a dull life of failure. After their father’s death, Sophie’s stepmom, Fanny tries to make things work out for her daughters, sending Martha to a witch for training and Lettie to a bakery to apprentice there while she and Sophie work in the hat shop. It’s not really Sophie’s dream come true but she is resigned to it.
Sophie somehow attracts the Witch of the Waste’s attention and ends up cursed. She has become an old woman and she sets off on her own. Out of desperation to get out of a cold wind, Sophie ends up in Howl’s Moving Castle. Now she knows Howl is an evil wizard who steals girls’ hearts and souls but figures she’s so old she’s safe from him. Michael, Howl’s young apprentice, can’t shoo her off and after she starts talking to the fire without being afraid he leaves her alone. He hasn’t seen too many people who will talk to Calcifer the fire demon without being afraid.
Calcifer and Sophie strike up an immediate bargain, he’ll break her curse if she’ll break the contract tying him to Howl. When Howl shows up, Sophie is surprised to find out he’s a young man and a very melodramatic vain one at that. Over the coming weeks, Sophie needs to become skilled at dealing with the pain in the butt that is Howl (how he manages to still come across as sexy even if he is a drama queen is quite amazing) Howl is on the run from the Witch of the Waste who’s out to curse him too.
It’s much different than the movie but I found I loved both incarnations. The book is so much fun. Howl and Sophie make a spark-flying pair. They’re very endearing. This was a new edition of the book and had a short interview with the author and she says she’s working on another sequel. I do hope it’s not like the other two, not that I didn’t like House of Many Ways, I did, but I REALLY want to see Sophie, Howl and Calcifer as the main characters, not as minor ones.