Book #9 (November) – Howl’s Moving Castle

** I’ve started a new Facebook-based book club! Learn more HERE.**

This month’s book is: Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.


Summary (from

Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.

Eldest of three sisters in a land where it is considered to be a misfortune, Sophie is resigned to her fate as a hat shop apprentice until a witch turns her into an old woman and she finds herself in the castle of the greatly feared wizard Howl.

Discussion Questions

Before you Read:

1. What are your expectations for the book?

2. What do you think of the cover?

3. Take a guess – why or what makes the castle move? (We’ll find out when we read what happens and compare our findings to this answer!)

Chapters 1-5:

4. Do you feel it was right for Sophie’s sisters to switch places?

5. What do you think of Sophie’s encounter with the Witch of the Waste? What about the spell she put Sophie under?

6. What do you think of the bargain between Calcifer and Sophie? Do you think either of them will hold up their end of the bargain?

7. Why do suppose Howl let Sophie stay in the castle despite his clear annoyance by her?

Chapters 6-10:

8. Why do you think the scarecrow came to life, and why might it have wanted to come in?

9. Considering that both Michael and Howl are pursuing Sophie’s sisters, how do you picture the relationships later on in the story? Do you think they’ll still be together, or that Howl/Michael will become part of the Hatter family?

10. What was the hint that Calcifer gave, and what might it have to do with the contract?

11. What do you think is behind the black door?



Chapters 11-15:

12. What connection might there be between the poem Miss Angorian read and Howl?

13. Do you believe Mrs. Pentstemmon is right in suggesting that Sophie is a witch? Do you think Sophie has powers she’s unaware of?

14. Why doesn’t the dog-man leave? Who might he really be?

Chapters 16-21:

15. Are you surprised to find out that the scarecrow was really Prince Justin and the dog was Wizard Suliman?

16. Did you suspect something odd about Miss Angorian all along? If so, why did you feel that way?

17. What did you think about Howl giving his heart to the fallen star (Calcifer)? Do you think it was a fair trade?

18. Did you want Sophie and Howl would fall in love? Why or why not? Are you glad that they did?

19. Are you glad that Calcifer returned?

Other Questions:

20. How do you imagine everyone’s future in the story? (Sophie, Howl, Michael, Sohpie’s sisters, Calcifer, etc.)

21. Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Book Club Dare: Watch the movie of the same title if you have not already seen it. How are the movie and book similar or different? Which do you prefer better, the movie or the book, and why?


19 responses to “Book #9 (November) – Howl’s Moving Castle

  1. 1. I watched the movie with the same title, so I expect the book to be just as interesting, but movies are always somewhat different from the books they are based on, so I expect some differences and maybe more details in the book.
    2. It looks like the castle is doing some odd kind of walking. I wonder what it would be like to meet it like that.
    3. I don’t remember details from the movie, so I don’t remember why the castle was moving. Maybe the wizard Howl makes it move because he keeps wanting to get away from something.

  2. 1. Based on the synopsis, I feel this book will be filled with interesting and a fantastic tales; but at the end of the journey the main character will learn a valuable lesson she can take back to the real world.
    2. The illustration on the cover makes it appear to be a childlike book, sort of like the Wizard of Oz tales. A castle with legs…makes me smile.
    3. I bet the castle moves when Sophie gets too close. It would not be a story ( and morals would not be learned) if Sophie caught the castle quickly.

  3. 1. I’ve heard a lot of praise for this book, so I hope it’ll live up to my expectations. Overall I think this book will be great.
    2. The cover looks like an illustration of children book, I’ve seen better ones, but I’ve also seen worse.
    3. Interesting question. Maybe it’s alive? 😀 Or the wizard makes it move because he often gets bored of the view. Really don’t know. I can’t wait to find out 🙂

  4. 1. I expect it to be fairly easy to read (as a young adult/children’s book) with plenty of fantastic elements.

    2. It looks like the house with all the black smoke somehow disrupts the idyllic, peaceful place (which even has pink clouds…). The house seems like a dragaon the little person is fighting against.

    3. I have been thinking about mechanisms the house could be using to move. In real life, houses sometimes move due to earth quakes or because they were built on soft ground. This will not be the case here, I believe it will be magic. But I don’t think the house will grow legs like the one on the cover.

  5. 1. I have seen the movie so I kind of know what to expect but the book is probably different. I hope it will be fun. It looks a little like the Patricia C Wrede books, which are not only fun but awesome!
    2. My cover is different from the one you have here. Mine includes some sort of wind spirit maybe (I don’t remember that from the movie). I also have the scarecrow on the front, which I vaguely remember from the story with a few other images swirling around the castle itself, which looks a little steampunky.
    3. Since the story seems to contain wizards and witches, I am assuming that it includes something to do with magic. I don’t remember from the movie.

  6. 1. After reading the synopsis and seeing the cover, I am expecting a book that will be fun to read and keep me interested. I’m sure this book will put a smile on my face.

    2. I like the cover. It makes you feel like it is all very fairytale like (which it is). After seeing it, the first thing I thought was that I just wanted to know WHY the castle has legs.

    3. Honestly, it could be anything that makes the castle move. Is it alive or is it just a spell? I am very curious 🙂

  7. 1. My exceptions even though I read this book last year are still very high ( I love this book)
    2. my cover is different it shows the inside of the castle, sophie, the fire demon, the scarecrow, and a dog.
    3. It has to do with something I mentioned in the second question.

  8. 4. Well, if neither of them wanted to be where they were going (and were okay with switching) then I don’t see the harm. Then again, using magic to do so… it might come back to bite them.
    5. The Witch of the Waste really does seem like a sour and misrable person. I don’t understand what Sophie did to upset the witch though. “And let that teach you to meddle with things that belong to me.” What exactly did she mean by that? The whole situation confused me a litte.
    As for the spell the witch put her under… did the witch choose that spell just because she was the eldest daughter? Weird…
    6. Well, I think Calcipher definitely wants to be free and Sophie wants to be freed of the spell. As for trusting Calcipher… I am not sure yet if I do. Clearly, he seems pretty sneaky. I think Sophie will do her best to hold up her end of the bargain, and hopefully Cal does it too.
    7. I would like to say Howl let Sophie stay because he realized his castle was pretty dirty too, but that probably isn’t it. He seemed pretty content living in the filth. I don’t think he recognizes her from the street, otherwise he would have perhaps figured out the spell and broke it. I don’t see him leaving her like that. Maybe he is just a nice guy under all the heart breaking of his.

  9. 4. I think from their perspective it was probably the best they could do. If their mother is really as bad as they say, yes, I think it was right for them to do. Why should they both be unhappy? I just think they should have tried to find a way to tell their sister earlier.
    5. After Sophie’s visit to her sister, she’d started to become more self-confident it seems. I think that was great, even if it turned out to upset the Witch of the Waste. She probably would have put a curse on Sophie anyway. Even from just reading the few chapters after, it seems like the spell doesn’t turn out as bad as the witch might have hoped. It gave Sophie more courage in a way and it helped her in meeting Howl (If she had been looking like a girl, she would have been much too scared because of what people said about him.)
    6. Another strange thing, but with the magic in the book, I’m expecting strange things. I think eventually they’ll both hold up their end of the bargain.
    7. I think he’s intrigued by her, how she’s so determined. And I think he also likes her, but it’s just a feeling that he can’t define yet.

  10. Unfortunately I was not able to have access to the chosen book of November so I read another book instead.

    1.What is the title of your book? Who is the author?
    Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

    2.Why did you choose this book?
    I chose this book because I have seen the films and to my surprise I really liked it. That’s why I decided to give the book a try too.

    3.Which character can you most relate to and why?
    I think Alice, because she is very loving and friendly. I really like her as a person.

    4.What was your favorite part of the novel and why?
    My favourite part was when Edward and Bella went on their first date and they got to know more about each other. I liked it because it seemed like a really nice first date (and I’m quite a romantic ;))

    5.Would you recommend this book to a friend?
    I would recommend it, because to my surprise the book is very well written and the story is good too.

  11. 4. I think they both should be happy and if switching helped then that’s good but the use of magic might mess thing up in the future
    5. I don’t understand what the witch ment when she said ” I’ve heard of you, Miss Hatter, and I don’t care for your competition” I don’t know what compitation she’s talking about. I think the spell reflects how Sophie feels about herself so if she feels old she’ll look old.
    6. it’s interesting and I think they both will hold up thier end of the bargain.
    7. he’s intrigued by her and probably relizes she ‘s very usefull to have around.

  12. 8. Maybe it’s some kind of demon, too. I think it may have wanted something from Sophie, whether something good or something bad, I don’t know.
    9. I think the relationships will change. Michael doesn’t even know yet, that his girlfriend is not who she seems to be. They might become part of the family, but probably not in the way it seems now.
    10. Does it have to do with catching the shooting star?
    11. Isn’t that the one where they went to the marsh? I’m getting all confused about the different doors, which color is which…

  13. 12. The few things he says seem to suggest that it has to do with Howl’s life and the witch’s curse.
    13. Yes, I do think so.
    14. Sophie is thinking he’s Lettie’s lover. I hope he’s a good person, not a spy.

  14. 1. I’m hoping it will have some really mysterious stuff going on that makes you think or wonder about what’s going to happen.
    2. I think it’s neat! It’s not everyday you see a moving castle. 😉
    3. I’m guessing magic.
    4. Yes, because their mother really doesn’t have a say in their destiny or their desires, so if they wish to pursue something else they should have a right to.
    5. I thought it was strange. I wondered why the Witch cast a spell on her when she didn’t even do anything.
    6. I don’t know if I trust Calcifer yet…so we’ll see how this bargain goes.
    7. Maybe deep down he’s fond of her 😉
    8. That’s puzzling to me. I guess I’ll find out later.
    9. I’m hoping Howl ends up with Sophie actually, but I can see Michael and Martha being together. 🙂
    10. It had something to do with a star…but I’m not sure what exactly.
    11. Hmmm….maybe the hearts of girls? 😉

  15. 12. I don’t like Miss Angorian…but I’m guessing the poem is about Howl, that every line has to do with something in his life.
    13. I believe Sophie could have powers she’s not aware of.
    14. I’m thinking he’s one of the people missing, but I’m not sure who yet.
    15. Yes! Who would have thought??
    16. Yes, I did…she just gave off this “up to no good” attitude. She was too nosy and coming in through the doors without permission.
    17. Well it was nice. I guess even stars deserve to live in this case.
    18. Yes!! And I’m glad they did! 🙂
    19. Yes, I couldn’t imagine the castle without Calcifer, so it’s nice that he can come and go as he pleases now.
    20. Sophie and Howl get married…Michael gets married to Martha…Calcifer becomes a big part of the whole family…and Lettie finds love eventually.
    21. Yep, I would. It’s a good book. 🙂 Cute, too.
    Book Club Dare: I haven’t watched the movie, but I will one day.

  16. 15. Like I answered in a previous question, the scarecrow seemed to be quite scary at times, but I’m glad it turned out to be Prince Justin. I think we didn’t know enough about Wizard Suliman before to be very surprised. We just knew the dog guy was connected to Lettie.
    16. No, I didn’t. I was surprised about who she really was.
    17. It was dangerous, but also seemed caring or loving, since otherwise Calcifer would have died. The magic and the heart are two very powerful things in a way, so in that sense the trade was fair. I’m glad that the contract was broken, though, both free they make a much better team!
    18. I think I kind of did want them to fall in love. They complement each other in a strange way. They’re both peculiar people, that kind of balances their relationship in a way that wouldn’t seem possible with other people.
    19. Yes, I am.

  17. 20. I imagine Sophie and Howl will marry. Calcifer might stay with them. Or maybe travel somewhere else if something exciting comes along. I guess the sisters have to get reaquainted to their lovers/boyfriends, so I don’t know.
    21. Yes, I would. It has different interesting elements.
    Book Club Dare: Well, it’s been quite while since I saw the movie, so I only faintly remember it. Therefore, I can’t really say anything about the similarities. I do remember the movie being very magical, too, though, just like the book is (magical as in an interesting fantasy world). I think the book has more details about the characters and the relationships. I like that. But I loved the graphics of the movie, too. So I think I like both the book and the movie, just in different ways. Actually, I would like to watch the movie again now, it’s been so long.

  18. Apparently there are two books that are kind of sequels to this book. I would like to read them. (“Castle in the Air” and “House of Many Ways”).

  19. I finally took my time to finish this book and here are my answers.
    Chapters 1-5:
    4. I was glad for them and it was a funny twist in the story.
    5. I felt so bad for Sophie; it was a really cruel thing to do. Sophie handled it better than I would.
    6. If I was on Sophie place I wouldn’t know how to break it, but I never doubted that both of them would hold up their end of the bargain, even though I didn’t know what to think about Calcifer.
    7. When I was reading this part I felt like Howl was sorry for Sophie, and that that was the reason why he let her stay.
    8. Again, now when I finished the book the explanation is easy, but back then I didn’t have any idea what could have brought him to life. The same goes for his reason to enter the castle.
    9. I didn’t think that Howl would stay with his Lettie, I always pictured him with Sophie at the end for some reason. Michael was a different story; I imagined that he would stay with Martha.
    10. He mentioned the shooting star to Sophie.
    11. The color black never meant anything good. I pictured there was something wicked behind those doors.
    12. Now I don’t know exactly what the poem was about, but I think it was connected to Howl’s curse.
    13. Yes, she was right. Sophie did have powers (thinking about the scarecrow).
    14. Oh, dogs are loyal, plus pretty soon we figured out that it’s a man under a curse. I suspected he could be either the king’s brother or the other wizard.
    15. I wasn’t really surprised, considering they were both missing. If it was someone unknown to the story, it wouldn’t be such a surprise and it wouldn’t have the keen impact.
    16. She seemed weird, but I would never think of she might be what she turned out to be.
    17. I think it said a lot about him. Fair trade? Yes, maybe it was.
    18. Yes, I did want them end up together. Sophie’s story was kind of tragic from the beginning, and I thought they both deserved love.
    19. I loved Calcifer, so I really am glad he returned.
    20. I’m a sucker for happy ending so I wished they ran the flower shop, living a peaceful life 
    21. I would recommend it to my friends (as the matter of fact I did). It was really strange and somewhat really original story.

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