I have found a witch after my own heart in Diana Wynne Jones’s Howl’s Moving Castle. What’s more, Diana knows what it’s like to be old(er), to have creaking knees and how to say what you think. Whether this works with young readers I have no idea, but the book was based on a suggestion from a boy at a school event, and even the dedication is wonderful.
Sophie is 17 (I think) when she is cursed by a not very nice witch, and ends up feeling and looking like 90. She leaves home and tries to find a new life, where a girl can be 90 and still manage.
She moves in with Howl in his castle, which as the title suggests never stays in one place. Two other males live there, and Sophie soon drives them all a little crazy. She cleans and she scolds.
There are puzzles to solve and spells to deal with. Sophie’s two younger sisters also get mixed up, in more ways than one, and there is witchcraft and wizardry seemingly everywhere. While Howl irritates Sophie (now what does that make you think of?) she needs to work out who the dog is, why the scarecrow seems so scary, and whether Howl really eats pretty young women. Perhaps that is why she is better off as an old crone?
This book seemed to take a long time to read, until I got to the end, and then I was very surprised it had ended. I feel there is more that needs saying. Luckily Diana thought so too, and there are two sequels.
I’m slowly feeling my way with Diana’s books, and this trilogy seemed like good company to take on holiday. I need stories that allow old women to be difficult and cantankerous.