And now for the second of two Read Along posts! We’re into Week 2 of the Howl’s Moving Castle Read Along, and there are a few surprises among these chapters! Let’s discuss.
Spoilers follow for chapters 8 through 14.
If you’re just joining us, you can find the Read Along schedule here! And now for the questions…
This week’s reading opens with Sophie mending Howl’s suit. By Chapter 14, Sophie finally learns that she’s been inadvertently charming clothes. Was it as obvious to you as everyone else in the book? Or were you as surprised as Sophie?
I was surprised! I think I remember noting that her talent for making hats might possibly have been something more than mundane, but I honestly didn’t expect her to turn out to be a witch. If I’m honest, I feel a tiny bit conflicted about this twist – I certainly didn’t need it in order to fall in love with Sophie, as I declared last week, heh. HOWEVER. It’s still a very interesting twist, and I am eager to see what comes of it.
What do we think of Sophie’s magical ability? How do we predict she might use them to break the contract between Howl and Calcifer?
As for breaking the contract – no idea, but that’s part of the fun! I like the way her ability is presented – she has to make something in order to put magic into it, and if that’s not a metaphor for crafters creating something wonderful I don’t know what is. How it will apply to this particular goal, though, I honestly don’t know. Time will tell!
The scarecrow that Sophie spoke to previously has caught up with the castle and gives everyone quite a fright when it attempts to come in. Who or what do we think the scarecrow might be? And why is he so insistent on getting inside the castle?
Book!Scarecrow is rather alarming, isn’t he? This is another part of the story I can’t figure out yet, but I really want to! Something tells me that whatever he wants might not be as terrible as it seems? Unless that’s just me? It could just be me and my optimism, heh. But I like to think the scarecrow is trying to be helpful somehow…?
Let’s talk about Michael’s ‘spell’, which turns out to be Howl’s nephew’s English homework, the poem Catch a Falling Star by John Donne. Did anyone recognise it straight away?
Sad to say I did not! I’m not much into classic literature or poetry, I’m afraid. But it’s fascinating, and a fascinating inclusion in the story! I was pleasantly surprised by the real-world lore that’s being dropped by using it.
Sophie finally gets to discover where the ‘black blob down’ door leads to! Were you surprised to find yourself in the Valleys? What did you make of the journey into Wales?
This was a twist that took a little mental adjustment! It reminded me a little of Terry Pratchett’s writing, but more surreal. Like when characters in an animated film suddenly step through a door or portal and become “real” people. It was bizarre, but in a fascinating way. I loved all the descriptions of real-world gadgets and appliances (and cars!) like they were magical, unknowable (terrible, poor Sophie) creations.
Calcifer claims to have dropped hints for Sophie during these chapters. What do you think? Did you pick up on any of them?
I did not, and I suspect I’ll have to go back and reread these chapters to see if they stand out to me now! I’m still not sure what the hints were that were dropped… Is that just me? DON’T SPOIL IT FOR ME I CAN FIGURE THIS OUT haha.
The dreaded Witch of the Waste finally makes a reappearance, with dire consequences for poor Mrs Pentstemmon! Were you expecting that?
I kind of did expect the Witch of the Waste to reappear, though I didn’t think it would happen this way! I thought she had more of a “distant threat, looming on the horizon” feel to her but this was much more up close and personal! Poor Mrs Pentstemmon, indeed.
In conclusion, all of this means I need to read on as quickly as possible! So that’s enough questions for now, I think. I’ve got a book to finish! See you next week…
Howl’s Moving Castle | Art: ©2004 Nibariki TGNDDDT