by Nghia Luong
The 2004 cinematic hit Howl’s Moving Castle made by Studio Ghibli captured the hearts of the young and old around the world with its charming writing and enchanting animations. The book, written by Diana Wynne Jones and published in 1986, however, was lackluster in comparison. The charm of the titular characters, Howl and Sophie, in the movie was nearly nonexistent in the novel. In the novel, Howl is portrayed as a bratty know-it-all man-child; easily angered by Sophie and all those in the house, a stark and annoying contrast to the lovable Howl of the movie universe. Howl’s personality in the book would have been excusable if he had any growth or redeeming qualities, however Jones failed to do this, leaving us, at the end, with the exact same Howl we started with. Further shortcomings would be the pace of the book which at times focuses too closely on one significant event while casually going through major plot points in broad, quick strokes, leaving the reading bewildered and very dissatisfied with the ending.
To those who have seen the movie, the book is unnecessary to read. To those that want to experience Howl’s moving Castle fully; the movie successfully does this by leaps and bounds.