I’ve had many people telling me what a funny book this is but I’m afraid that I don’t find it that funny. Still, it was entertaining to read about the vain and dandy Wizard Howl who supposedly consumes the hearts of young girls!
Anyway, the story starts with Sophie Hatter. She has two younger sisters, Lettie and Martha. Her parents owned a ladies’ hat shop in Market Chipping. Her mother died when she was only two years old and her father married one of his shop assistants, Fanny, who then gave birth to Martha. So, Martha is considered Sophie and Lettie’s half sister. Well, the sisters do get along well with one another.
When Mr. Hatter died one day, the shop is left in Fanny’s hands. With not much money to spare for Lettie and Martha’s schooling, she sent Lettie to Cesari’s, the pastry cook, to be an apprentice and Martha to Annabel Fairfax, a witch, as an apprentice, too. Sophie is left to help out at the hat shop.
Sophie did not realize that she could talk things to life. Because of her, the hats in the hat shop have been selling like hot cakes. She gave character to the hats that she talked to while trimming them. One fine day, the evil Witch of the Waste paid a visit to the hat shop and without warning, turned Sophie into an old, old lady. It’s obvious that the witch does not approve of Sophie’s magic.
However, Sophie is calm and cool about it. She doesn’t mind being an old lady. Hence, she set off and somehow arrived at Wizard Howl’s castle. Since she’s an old lady now, she’s not worried that the wizard might eat her heart. She then became the wizard’s cleaning lady.
While she was there, she got to know Howl’s young apprentice, Michael and even made a deal with Calcifer, the fire demon. She promised to break Calcifer’s contract with Howl and in return, Calcifer would turn her back into a young girl again.
Diana Wynne Jones is a very descriptive writer and it’s clear in her books. Almost everything is described thoroughly and well and you get a clearer picture of things. She makes Howl a self-centred wizard but quite a kind-hearted one, too since he allows old Sophie to stay in his castle. I really like the ending, though! And yeah, don’t worry, there are indeed some funny parts that would make you chuckle.