Sophie Hatter is the eldest of three sisters and is set for a dull life once she inherits her family's hat shop.
After losing her temper and insulting a rude customer, Sophie is turned into an old woman. Unable to tell anyone of the spell, Sophie sets out to find an answer and comes face-to-face with a fire demon and Wizard Howl, who is said to eat the hearts of young girls.
Sophie strikes a bargain that will lead her on a journey back to youth and discover what an adventure it is to truly live.
The characters and intricate weaving of the plot are what makes Howl's Moving Castle a favourite of mine.
Sophie is a driven character, with sewing talents and temper flaws. She grows into a daring woman in the progress of the story and goes through experiences - aching bones and riddlesome spells - that strengthen her and give her the courage to seek out her dreams.
Howl is a charismatic drama queen. Full of quirks and cowardice, he is the stealer of hearts and the most-wanted wizard in the land of Ingary.
I read this book for the first time years ago when I learned of the then-to-be-released film adaptation. Once I realised that the book was written by Diana Wynne Jones, whose Chrestomanci books (Charmed Life and sequels) I adored, I purchased a copy and devoured it.
From the first chapter I was hooked by the lyrical prose. I was intrigued and captivated by the constant turn of events and the developing complexity of the story.
This has since become one of my favourite books and Howl one of my favourite fictional characters. I never tire of the cleverness of the story and how it shows the way in which the characters' perspectives change for the better.
I know that plenty of people have seen Hayao Miyazaki's animated film adaptation and loved it. I know I did but I implore you to read the novel as the film is only based on the book, which reveal marvelous aspects of the story that you never knew existed.
Howl's Moving Castle is a favourite of mine that will remain on my shelf and in my imagination. I recommend it to anyone who is looking to be swept up in a world of magic and a journey of self.