Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Sometimes one hears of a book for years and years without picking it up.This happened to me. I heard many people mention Howl's Moving Castle but never read it. Now I am disappointed because I missed out for years on a great adventure.
For those of you who have yet to read the book or see the movie (I've not seen it - yet) it is the story about a girl named Sophie. Sophie is the oldest of three girls and in the land she lives in this means she destined - basically - to a dull, normal life. Yet, this changes the day The Witch of the Waste comes into the hat shoppe where she works and turns her into an old woman.
Not sure what to do or whom to turn to for help, Sophie hobbles off and soon comes upon Wizard Howl's moving castle. As a girl, Sophie feared Howl who supposedly captured young girls and ate their hearts. Now, however, she's an old woman and simply invites herself into the castle.
Inside, she meets Calficer - a fire demon who says he will help Sophie if she helps him. She also meets Michael, Howl's apprentice, and Howl himself who is much different then she heard.
Since there is hope her curse will be lifted if she stays, Sophie moves into the castle and begins to clean everything. In doing so she annoys everyone, but especially Howl, and is rather forced to join in many of his mad schemes. One such scheme is his attempt to get out of finding a lost prince, but not all is as it seems - especially Howl.
The best part of this book is the characters. As a girl, Sophie is painfully shy. She likes to be left alone and is terrified when someone speaks to her. As an old woman she is sassy, sharp, and has a temper. (During one chapter she gets mad at everyone and takes out her anger with weed killer.)
Michael is cowardly, but he's devoted to Howl. He's also scared of Sophie when she gets into a temper - but everyone should be scared of her at such times.
Howl is, in my opinion, the best. He's dashing and knows it. He's prideful, something of a big baby, a coward, dodges out of every uncomfortable thing he can, and can sulk better then anyone alive. And yet, under all that, he's fearless and willing to do anything for those he loves. Part of the time I wanted to slap him, the other part I wished to hug him. And he won me over just like every girl he ever set out to win.
Lastly I loved the ending! BEST fairy tale ending I've ever read!
I should add something witty now, but after being around Howl...I mean, how can I compete with that? (Everyone who has read the book - or seen the movie - knows what I mean.)