Gwen & Kate's Library

Two sisters' reviews of Young Adult and Middle Grade books, inspired by their lovely library.

Gwen’s Review of Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (Book & Movie Review)

I cannot review the book Howl’s Moving Castle without reviewing the movie as well. They compliment each other so nicely it is as if they are two parts of a whole, or two alternative versions…

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (Book)


Series: Howl’s Moving Castle Trilogy, Book 1

Genres: Young Adult/Middle Grade, Fantasy, Romance

Format: Paperback, Audiobook, narrated by Jenny Sterlin

Rating: 4.5 stars


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. 

Howl’s Moving Castle directed by Hayao Miyazaki (Movie)

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Producer: Toshio Suzuki, Studio Ghibli


Book and Movie Review:

I cannot review the book Howl’s Moving Castle without reviewing the movie as well. They compliment each other so nicely it is as if they are two parts of a whole, or two alternative versions (the AP Statistics side of me wants to say they are like a null hypothesis and an alternate hypothesis, and each person must individually do their own testing to decide if they want to reject the null in favor of the alternate or not).

Oddly enough, while the animated movie is an adaptation of the book, I personally find that the movie handles the characterization and romance better than the book. However, the book provides more side-stories and deeper intrigue, and has a slightly different ending from the movie due to the wider character cast and more intricate plot. The movie in fact drops many characters and scenes, making the plot much simpler but also more focused and precise.

To add to the uniqueness of this duo, they can easily be enjoyed in any order. I watched the movie twice before even realizing that it was based off a book at all! Personally, I prefer the movie to the book (scandalous I know, but I assure you this is the only case), because the animation is just so beautiful and I did fall in love with the movie first.

Final Verdict:

I recommend reading the book and watching the movie! Either order works in this case since they are so different. I really see them as companions instead of the original and a movie adaptation, since they have different strengths and weaknesses. But both are very very highly recommended by both of us!

(This book counts for the School YA Bingo Challenge in the category of “A Book with a Lion, a Witch, or a Wardrobe.”)


8 comments on “Gwen’s Review of Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (Book & Movie Review)

  1. CKReads
    June 12, 2015

    I love both although I prefer the world of the book more. The end of the movie though is my favorite over the book. Both have a very special place for me. I plan on rereading the book this summer. It has a very summary feel for me. Great review =)

    • gwenkate
      June 12, 2015

      Yes, I can certainly see what you mean. I really do think they compliment each other perfectly — one’s strengths are the other’s weaknesses. Thanks for commenting! Have fun with the re-read! ~Gwen

      • CKReads
        June 12, 2015

        You’re welcome I really can’t resist commenting on that book and movie. I love Ghibli films and wish all were book based at least books that were easy to find in print!

      • gwenkate
        June 12, 2015

        Yes yes I know!! Have you seen Whisper of the Heart? I wrote a book/movie review on that a while ago, and I think I linked to the online version of the graphic novel it’s based off of. Not ideal, but it’s quick enough to read in one sitting and super fun and worth it! (Although again I like the movie more) ~Gwen

      • CKReads
        June 12, 2015

        Yes you linked me the manga just have to find the link again. Whisper of the Heart touches me because I relate to both characters. I think i may need to rebuy the copy of the movie though because mine is a little scratched. I saw you wrote a review for the 2nd book in the series Castle in the sky is based off that??

      • gwenkate
        June 12, 2015

        No, as I explain in the review, the two are not at all related (unfortunately!). Castle in the Air is very Aladdin-esque, while as you know Castle in the Sky is more about air pirates and robots.

      • CKReads
        June 12, 2015

        I like Aladdin just been hesitant to read that one, but if the library has it I may give it a go! =)

  2. Pingback: School YA Bingo Challenge FINALE!! | Gwen & Kate's Library

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