Diana Wynne Jones: Howl’s Moving Castle (originally published by Greenwillow Books in 1986)
Diana Wynne Jones was born in London as a child of teacher parents. After the beginning of World War II, the family moved a lot within England. Diana and her two sisters grew up in great freedom (one sister later became a literary critic, the other girl an actress and children’s book writer). The author studied at Oxford, where she listened to J.R.R. Tolkien’s lectures. She has written more than 40 books in her lifetime, mainly in the children’s category. Her works have inspired many other fantasy and science-fiction writers such as Philip Pullman, J. K. Rowling or Neil Gaiman. She was awarded by the British Fantasy Society for her significant impact on fantasy literature.
One of her most famous books is the Howl’s Moving Castle, which really became famous when the Studio Ghibli made an animated film from it, directed by Hayao Miyazaki, which was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. The theme song of the movie (Merry Go Round of Life) is worth listening to because it’s magical.
Sophie Hatter is the oldest of the three sisters, so she’s sure there won’t be any adventures in her life. Resisting her fate, she lives peacefully in Market Chipping, a small town in the land of the kingdom of Ingary. She makes special hats and unfortunately, she draws the attention of the Witch of the Steppes, who curses her. Sophie finds herself in the skin of a ninety-year-old lady. Since she doesn’t want her family to see her this way, she heads to the only place she can go: Howl’s moving castle. This is where her adventures begin, during which she meets the strange owner of the castle and the people of his household.