|Howl's Moving Castle|
|Author||Diana Wynne Jones|
|UK Release Date||1986|
|US Release Date|
|Followed by||Castle in the Air|
This is really a very unusual novel. Written when Diana Wynne Jones was in her fifties, it turns many of the classic fairy tale elements on their heads.
The young heroine isn't enchanted in one of the classic ways -- sleeping (beautifully), impoverished (she's a nice middle class girl), or victimized (her stepmother is a kind, loving young widow).
Instead, she's just suddenly old, which naturally makes her slow, cranky, somewhat bossy, and fully herself. Instead of meeting her prince in a far-off castle, the ponderously puffing castle comes to her. Instead of vanquishing a demon, she makes friends with one. And instead of depending on a magical fairy godmother to help her out of difficulties, she becomes one.
The second time one reads this book, hundreds of details leap out at you that you didn't notice the first time. It's no wonder that the master of Japanese animation was himself enchanted by this book and chose to turn it into a marvelous film. It's worth it.