Howl’s Moving Castle – Book Vs. MovieHowl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
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?


14 Replies to “Howl’s Moving Castle – Book Vs. Movie”

  1. I absolutely love both the movie and book and just allow myself to think of them as two different tellings of the same story so that I don’t have to compare them. 🙂 I’m glad that you liked the book though! It was also my entry point for DWJ because I was a huge Ghibli fan and noticed after a while that some of the movies were based on books.

  2. I adore the movie so much. When I read the book, it was a huge shock how different it was and I think I had trouble seeing it for its own merits (though I could see that it was pretty awesome). I think I’d like to go back and reread the book sometime soon.

  3. I just put the movie on my Netflix queue. So many books, so little time — I like it when I can watch the movie instead.

  4. Well, Diana Wynne Jones is one of my favorite authors, so naturally I like the book best. If you think this one has too many characters or is confusing, it’s pretty sedate compared to some of the others! But their liveliness and inventiveness is part of what I enjoy about them, so it doesn’t bother me.

    I’ve only seen the movie once, and I found it a fine film in and of itself, but it didn’t quite capture the magic of the book for me – perhaps partly because I don’t see it in my head as a Japanese animated feature. The ending also seemed to me to miss the point of the story. At any rate, I’m glad you liked the book even if you preferred the movie, and I hope you’ll try some others by DWJ.

  5. I haven’t seen the movie BECAUSE I haven’t read the book yet! Although I did just break my own rule about that, and finally watched The Princess Bride without reading the book. Howl’s Moving Castle and DWJ were mentioned so frequently during BBAW recently that it made me want to move it up to the top of the TBR list but I haven’t yet.

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