Howl’s Moving Castle Series: Explore Diana Wynne Jones’ Land of Ingary

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

The Howl’s Moving Castle series is a children’s fantasy book series written by British author Diana Wynne Jones.

The Howl’s Moving Castle Trilogy, the Reading Guide

The Howl’s Moving Castle series, also known as The Land of Ingary trilogy or the Wizard’s Castle series, consists of the following books:

Howl’s Moving Castle (1986)
Castle in the Air (1990)
House of Many Ways (2008)

About Howl’s Moving Castle and its sequel

The synopsis of Howl’s Moving Castle

In the land of Ingary, Sophie Hatter is the eldest of three daughters, and as such, is destined to run her father’s old hap shop. Resigned to live quite an ordinary and unadventurous life, Sophie finds herself cursed by the vengeful Witch of the Waste who turns her into an old lady.

She leaves the hat shop behind her to find a position as a cleaning lady in Howl’s Castle, the house of a powerful wizard, in the hope to break the spell. She enters into a bargain with Calcifer, Howl’s fire demon, that if she breaks the secret contract between Howl and Calcifer, the latter will break the Witch’s spell on her. Sophie’s journey to find a way to break the spell is filled with new challenges and adventures as she falls in love and discovers her own powers.

The Inspiration behind the trilogy

Diana Wynne explained the inspiration for Howl’s Moving Castle in a Q&A that you can find at the end of Harper Collins’ edition of the book:

One thing was that I had thought for many years what fun it would be if all the fairtale things — like cloaks of darkness, seven-league boots and wicked wizards in frowning castles — were really true. This goes right back to when I was eight and longed and longed to be able to fly. Not in an aeroplane, just by myself.
A second thing was a visit I made to a school, where a boy, who was sitting on the floor beside the table where I had perched myself, suddenly upped and asked me if I had ever thought of writing about a moving castle. I said, No I hadn’t, but what a splendid idea and did he mind if I used it. He said, “Not at all. Be my guest.”
It was a couple of years before I wrote the book, because I had to wait until I knew what Wizard Howl was like. I began to discover Howl about the time when one of my sons took to spending several hours in the bathroom every morning and I got really, really annoyed with him.

Diana Wynne Jones wrote two other books set in the Land of Ingary. Castle in the Air, the second opus, was released four years later and came into form after someone gave the author The Arabian Nights. She realized there were still many fairytale things left unexplored and was, at the same time interested to discover what happened after the events of the first volume.

It would take ten years for the third and last volume of the series to be released. She wanted to explore the High Norland but couldn’t find something working until the heroine, Charmain, appeared in her head.

Adaptation

In 2004, Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki turned Diana Wynne Jones’s novel Howl’s Moving Castle into a now-classic animated film. Although the novel and the movie have similar plots and main characters, they each provide a unique viewing experience.

As it is frequently the case, the movie simplifies and condenses the plot to fit the main action within its running time. There are various character arcs and subplots in the novel that aren’t included in the movie adaptation.

The personalities of the main characters have also been altered; Howl, for instance, has lost his “womanizing” tendencies from the novel, while Sophie is now more conventional. Additionally, several characters have been eliminated from the story or their role have been altered.

The biggest change made by Miyazaki was to use the war as a large part of the plot when it is only tangentially referred to in the book.

In the end, both of them depict a world full of magic and wonder, and that is what matter the most!

*

After the Howl’s Moving Castle series, explore other worlds with Diana Wynne Jones and her Chrestomanci series.