Howl’s Moving Castle – Book Vs. Movie

Howl's Moving Castle

by Diana Wynne Jones
Published on August 1st 2001
Pages: 336
Buy on Amazon

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.

I’ve read a lot of Terry Pratchett but I’ve never read any Diana Wynne Jones. I love the Howl’s Moving Castle movie by Studio Ghibli so I decided to start with that book.

The book is very different than the movie. Both start with Sophie being cursed by the Witch of the Waste and turning into an old woman. She searches out the fearsome wizard Howl to try to turn her back. In the book there are many more characters than in the movie. I think that if I had read the book first I would be annoyed by the fact that the movie got rid of all the people, but since I know that movie better, I think that it was a good decision. The book rambled at times and got confusing in trying to fit in all the characters. I know, I know, that is absolute sacrilege to like the movie better because it has less going on.

Things I love about both stories:

  • Calcifer the fire demon is my favorite.  He’s powerful and grumpy and the greatest.
  • I love the idea of a house that has a door that can open to one of four places.

I like the book better because:

  • Sophie learns that she is magical and has a very cool talent

I like the movie better because:

  • This is a story that is really enhanced by the visuals
  • I like the scarecrow being in the story more from the beginning

Have you read this and/or seen the movie?  What do you prefer?