Simon Bisson (sbisson) wrote,
Simon Bisson

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The Monday Bowl Of Soup Review: Howl's Moving Castle

A week of deep technical content at TechEd made me reach for some light fantasy as soon as I got home to the UK. Luckily, thanks to a long conversation with Farah and Caro at gummitch's summer party, I'd ordered some Diana Wynne Jones from Amazon, and Howl's Moving Castle was sat near the top of the trade paperback to-be-read pile...

Ostensibly a young adult novel, Howl's Moving Castle uses the tropes of the fairy tale to show the meaning of responsibility. A family of three sisters finds themselves in reduced circumstances, and must learn to live with the choices they make. The eldest, Sophie, cursed by the Witch of the Waste, makes her way to the Moving Castle of the Wizard Howl, which is currently circling their little country town, becoming his cleaner. But as time passes we find ourselves in layers of deception and curses, where no one is what they seem - and the only way out is for everyone to accept their situations, instead of ignoring them.

Diana Wynne Jones' light touch is very much to the fore here, with Howl's Moving Castle a quick and easy read - much like her Chrestomanci series (which share similar themes and structures). The characters are well drawn and act as an ensemble, and combined with the limited number of sets this makes the book feel at times like a BBC drama. That's not bad - I have many pleasant memories of Sunday evening classic dramas, sat in front of a blazing fire - and get something of the same sense of comfort from the slim volume.

Pity about the cover art, though...
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