Posts Tagged ‘Howl’s moving castle’

Howl’s Moving Castle Readalong: Castle in the Air

I’m changing the name of the readalong for clarity’s sake. Also, whereas we read Howl’s for a direct comparison to the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, we’re basically reading the rest of the Howl series just because they’re fun and we can.

I hope, Squiders, that you didn’t have as many issues as I did trying to track down Castle in the Air. I checked multiple library systems, including the Kindle Lending Library, several used bookstores, and several not-used bookstores (we had that conversation already). I finally had to buy it off of Amazon.

(All the libraries have the third book, The House of Many Ways, but now I am wondering if I should just buy it so I have the whole set.)

Ah, Castle. I think, the first time I read it, I was just reading Diana Wynne Jones books because I never had until Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle came out and I didn’t realize it was related at all until, you know, near the end when you suddenly have Sophie and you’re a bit confused about what just happened. I think it’s more confusing if you don’t know that the books are related before hand. And I suspect it is even more confusing if you haven’t read Howl’s previously.

I have complaints. Whereas Howl‘s plays on the traditional fairy tale tropes, Castle tries to do the same with your Arabian-Night styled tropes, and I feel that instead of twisting the cliches, it just falls prey to them. There’s your typical genies and magic carpets and djinns and sultans, and maybe the twist is supposed to be that a lot of them are enchanted people, but it doesn’t quite work out.

Also, the plot feels kind of hodge-podge. Like she had this idea for the story of Abdullah and Flower-in-the-Night but couldn’t quite get it to go by itself, so she mixed in elements from her Howl’s world and kind of stuffed things wherever they would go.

(Also, I could remember from the first reading that the carpet and the genie were Howl and Calcifer, but I couldn’t remember which was which, and I guessed the other way around from how it actually was, because it seemed to me that Howl would like to be flattered with pretty language and that it would just piss Calcifer off.)

(Also, Prince Justin apparently can’t go more than two feet outside of Kingsbury without getting enchanted.)

And I am annoyed that Sophie, despite being an excellent mother as a cat, suddenly is all timid and incompetent when faced with a human baby. Nrrrgh.

There are things I liked, though. I like the end rather a lot, and I like that the princesses are reasonable, useful people instead of just being in the way or being helpless. I like how everyone had to work together to get rid of the djinns. I like Jamal and his dog. And I like the epilogue.

…so apparently I only like the last quarter of the book. Hm.

What did you think, Squiders? Do you feel like the book was successful at its attempt to be a twist on the Arabian Night stories?

We’ll read The House of Many Ways for the end of July. I haven’t gotten around to reading that one yet, so I’m interested to see how it goes. I’m hoping it gives us more of a look at how Howl can cross from our world to Ingary and back again.

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles Readalong: Howl’s Moving Castle

First off, if you’ve come from a link somewhere to tell me that Howl’s Moving Castle isn’t part of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles–yes, thank you, I know.

For people who’ve been along for the ride, this month we read Howl’s by Diana Wynne Jones to see the same genre (in this case, fairy tale satire) presented from another point of view. (Also, this is one of my very favorite books and I always appreciate a good excuse to pull it off the shelf again.)

Whereas both the EFC (as I am now calling it, as I am sick of typing out the whole thing) and Howl’s purposefully twist fairy tale tropes, they do so in different manners. Both have main characters that run contrary to some trope. In the EFC, Cimorene is a princess who hates doing princess things. Mendanbar is a king who despises formality. Morwen is a young, pretty redheaded witch with non-black cats (and a major subplot of the third book is her non-traditional witchiness). In Howl’s, Sophie knows any adventures she attempts will go wrong because she’s the eldest of three siblings, and so she doesn’t bother looking until adventure finds her.

However, both stories are completely different in feel. Both stories have magic at their core, yet the execution is completely different. Also, Howl’s has a link to the real world which is explored just enough to drive you crazy trying to figure out how things work.

I have to say, after reading both, that I like Howl’s better. I think it’s a better crafted story and, while it’s based on fairy tale tropes like the EFC, there’s enough original concepts in there to make everything more interesting. (This may be because Diana Wynne Jones was further into her writing career than Patricia Wrede even though all the books came out at the same general time.) In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I’m going to extend our little readalong to the next two books in the series, Castle in the Air and The House of Many Ways. (I’ve read Castle before–it’s not as good as Howl’s, sadly, but I haven’t read the third, so that should be exciting for everyone.)

If you didn’t read Howl’s with me–you should. It’s a fun read–the characters are interesting, the banter is fun, the plot is original (how many hero/ines spend the majority of a story ninety years old?), and the magic is intriguing.

For those of you who watched the Miyazaki movie (in general or for comparison with the book)–the plot line starts out the same, and then wildly diverges about the time Sophie goes to visit the king. I adore both, but they’re very different animals in the end. Also, Miyazaki makes it an anti-war statement. The man is quite creative about getting his morals into children’s films, not that that’s necessarily a bad thing.

So! Castle in the Air for the end of June. I’ll see you then, Squiders! And, as always, your comments and questions are welcome in the comments.