I am running super late with my final read along posts for this month, but I’ll get there! Today is the day I share my final (confused and amused?) thoughts and feelings on Howl’s Moving Castle, so let’s get to the discussion! SPOILERS BELOW…
This final round of questions comes courtesy of Nils and Beth at The Fantasy Hive! In case you missed it, you can find a complete previous round-up of Q’s and A’s here.
Let’s start with the epic magic battle we’re treated to in ch16! What did you make of it? Was all the magic easy to visualise?
It was easy to visualise, and I always love it when a book hits the mark when it comes to giving the reader such great mental pictures. It’s my favourite thing about enjoying a book. In this case, the battle was definitely the beginning of chaos reigning, but nonetheless I was all the way here for it!
Following the battle, it’s decided they must move Calcifer, and so Howl purchases the hat shop. This is one of the few moments in the book where we witness Howl actually perform a magic spell. What did you think of the move and the resulting flower shop?
I admit, I lost the thread of logic here a little bit – but that’s OK, because by this point I was thoroughly along for the ride, hehe! I really like the idea of mundane locations that are actually connected to something/somewhere magical, like another take on portal fantasy. And I just love the idea of this particular location being a flower shop – I’m a big fan of flowers and the pretty mental pictures pleased me immensely!
It’s revealed that Howl knew Sophie was under a spell for a long time! Why do you think he kept it a secret?
A wizard’s mind is an unknowable puzzle, certainly beyond the ken of – nah, he’s just a tricky one, that Howl. Maybe it is still typical of wizards to play their cards close, but I still found myself wanting to yell at him for not being honest – though to be fair, that was sort of the point of him, wasn’t it?
And let’s address the scarecrow and the fact that Howl had Wizard Suliman’s skull sat on his counter this entire time!
Am I the only one who was kind of horrified by the human-trapped-as-scarecrow idea?! Skulls are all well and good, but YIKES.
“Or had Howl slithered out so hard that he has come out right behind himself and turned out what most people would call honest?”
Is this a particularly fair comment from Sophie? How has your perception of Howl changed over the book, if at all?
I think the author did an excellent job here of not letting Howl slide all the way into being unlikeable. I still like him, even though he’s a bit of a weasel and perhaps not entirely trustworthy – he’s got enough charm to get away with it. Although I thought all his talk of “this was my plan all along, of course I was going to help!” maybe smells a little bit of a cat doing something undignified and acting like they meant to do it, because heaven forbid they should ever actually be undignified!
When Sophie tells Howl that she is a failure because she’s the eldest, Howl responds, “Garbage… you just never stop to think” and that she’s “too nice”.
Would you say this is a fair criticism of Sophie?
I think it’s a little bit harsh, but Howl isn’t necessarily wrong, is he? Regardless of his phrasing, he’s refuting her ingrained notion that she’s doomed to failure simply because of her circumstances. Any failures she had to deal with came about through her actions; there’s nothing passive about it. So I kind of agree with him!
Say one thing for DWJ, she loves a good twist. Did you guess Calcifer was actually a fallen star? How about that Miss Angorian was one too? Which was the biggest twist for you?
NO I DID NOT AND HOW DARE YOU MADAM JONES.
I spent this entire book trying to puzzle out the “contract” and what it meant for Calcifer, and how on earth he was going to get out of it – I even worried at one point that Calcifer was going to turn out to be a villain! (I would have rioted if he did.)
Likewise, Miss Angorian actually being more of a villain even than the Witch of the Waste was something I didn’t see coming. To be honest I didn’t think much about her at all, which I guess makes this a very successful twist! DANG IT ALL.
Finally, what were your overall thoughts?
I loved everything about this book – even the descent into chaos that had me losing the thread of it a little bit. I don’t get to say that very often at all, so 100% well done to DWJ for hoodwinking me so well!
I’m also in that interesting position of not really preferring the book over the film or vice versa – they are so very different that any comparison isn’t really fair. Both are wonderful in their own ways, and I will treasure them both from here on out!
Howl’s Moving Castle | Art: ©2004 Nibariki TGNDDDT