“In the land of Ingary where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of the three. Everyone knows you are the one who will fail first, and worst, if the three of you set out to seek your fortunes.”
Written by British author Diana Wynne Jones, and first published in 1986, Howl’s Moving Castle is the first of three books in Jone’s Howl series, followed by 1990’s Castle in the Air and 2008’s House of Many Ways.
For Sophie Hatter of Market Chipping, Ingrary, being born the oldest of three is only the beginning of her troubles, since the oldest child is doomed to fail first. When Sophie’s father dies, her stepmother, Fanny, takes Sophie and her two sisters out of school. But whilst Lettie and Martha go off to become apprentices, Sophie is left with no one to talk to but the hats she creates. One day, the Witch of the Waste makes a visit to Sophie’s shop, and leaves Sophie under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance of breaking it is to find the ever-moving castle in the hills and plead with the castle’s owner, the heartless Wizard Howl. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie makes a deal with Howl’s fire demon, Calcifer: if Sophie can break his contract with Howl, then he will fix her curse. Finding herself caught up in Howl and the Witch’s conflict, Sophie soon discovers that there’s far more to Howl — and herself — than first meets the eye.
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