In the land of Ingary, such things as spells, invisible cloaks, and seven-league boots were everyday things. The Witch of the Waste was another matter.
After fifty years of quiet, it was rumored that the Witch was about to terrorize the country again. So when a moving black castle, blowing dark smoke from its four thin turrets, appeared on the horizon, everyone thought it was the Witch. The castle, however, belonged to Wizard Howl, who, it was said, liked to suck the souls of young girls.
The Hatter sistersSophie, Lettie, and Marthaand all the other girls were warned not to venture into the streets alone. But that was only the beginning.
In this giant jigsaw puzzle of a fantasy, people and things are never quite what they seem. Destinies are intertwined, identities exchanged, lovers confused. The Witch has placed a spell on Howl. Does the clue to breaking it lie in a famous poem? And what will happen to Sophie Hatter when she enters Howl's castle?
Diana Wynne Jones's entrancing fantasy is filled with surprises at every turn, but when the final stormy duel between the Witch and the Wizard is finished, all the pieces fall magically into place.
In Wynne Jones' fantasy universe there is always odd magic cropping up. When the reluctant milliner Sophie talks to her hats, unfortunately they listen. It is unfortunate, because in unwittingly giving futures to her hats' purchasers, she brings down the wrath of the Witch of the Waste. A quick visit by the witch, a short spell, and seventeen-year-old Sophie is aged sixty years. Undaunted, Sophie hobbles off to seek her fortune as a cleaning woman in the moving castle of the young wizard Howland the fun begins. Shortly Sophie has the entire establishment well in hand, even the vain clothes-horse Howl. But finding an end to her spell is another matter. Wynne Jones' castle is a marvelous conceitfour doors open onto four different locations, and the whole is moved by Howl's talking fire demon, Calcifer. In this first of three interconnected stories (followed by Castle in the Air, 1990, and House of Many Ways, 2008), Wynne Jones creates the memorable characters who believably people her country of Ingary in an alternate, late Victorian-era world. Reviewer: Kathleen Karr