Thursday, June 16, 2011

Howl's Moving Castle, Castle in the Air, and The House of Many Ways

Title: Howl's Moving Castle, Castle in the Air, and The House of Many Ways
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Narrator: Jenny Sterlin
Publisher: Recorded Books
Pub Date: 2008, 2009, 2009 (recording pub dates)
Reviewed from: My library's copies that I checked out with my very own library card

Another post about three books at once! What is up with me? I don't post for ages and then I pull out three books at once three twice in a week? But since I've listened to the entire trilogy during my haitus I'm just going to do it.

Back when Diana Wynne Jones died I read all sorts of articles about how great she was and it occurred to me that I had never read anything by her. I'm constantly sending fantasy fans her way but I had never quite sent myself her way. So I'm in the process of rectifying that.

While I am not a huge fan of .gifs nor am I a huge fan of swearing, there is a sweary .gif that regularly makes the rounds of tumblr that, I believe, perfectly encapsulates the Howl books and it is linked here for your viewing pleasure. These are books about strong women (at least Howl's Moving Castle and House of Many Ways are) who know what needs to be done and if they don't know then they will figure it out, gosh darn it!

Ok, Howl's Moving Castle is, according to the name, about the Wizard Howl but really it is about Sophie who can do magic mostly because she is so darn stubborn that things have to do what she tells them to. When she gets turned into an old woman she is annoyed at the aches and pains that go along with it but also likes how being an old woman gives her credence to say whatever she wants to say and do whatever she wants to do and just be the kick-butt lady that she is!

Castle in the Air isn't quite as good probably because it's main character is a man and a much less likeable man then most. I'd say that Diana Wynne Jones isn't as good at writing male characters as female characters except I'm not reading The Chronicles of Chrestomanci and she nails it there. I think it's just Abdullah is meant to be obnoxious and dense and unlikeable. BUT totally worth reading because it brings you on to ...

House of Many Ways. I want to know more about Charmain. She's fantastic and all she wants to do is sit down and read a good book, darn it, but unfortunately she has agreed to watch her Great Uncle William's house while he is off getting cured by the elves and Great Uncle William just happens to be the royal wizard and Charmain just happens to get herself involved in shenanigans. And hijinks. There is an evil Lubbock who is trying to take over the kingdom and some misdirected Kobolds who are all in a tizzy about the color of the flowers in the garden and her Great Uncle William's house is a maze of folded space and time. Charmain, as I said, gets lumped into this mess and she fixes the whole thing (spoilers? What, like you didn't know it was all going to turn out? Hush. Read the book anyway to figure out how it happens and why and who. Very much who. The characters are all the best.) pretty much because she wants everyone to leave her in peace long enough for her to get some reading in! That's the kind of superhero I want to be.

These books are all narrated by Jenny Sterlin and she's fantastic. She's got this air about her narration that reminds me of Sophie and Charmain in that she's telling you what happened and there will be no nonsense while she's reading you this story so just sit down and listen. Honestly I got so much cleaning done (I listen to audiobooks while cleaning my house. I am desperately boring) just because Jenny Sterlin's narration did not allow itself to be turned off.


Andrea said...

Diana Wynne Jones = one of my all time favorite authors and I love this series even though I haven't read House of Many Ways yet. Will rectify that soon.

You should watch the Howl's Moving Castle movie. It's not like the book so much but it is a beautiful movie.

P.S. I also listen to books while cleaning. It passes the time of an otherwise boring chore.

Anonymous said...

SOOOOOOOPHIEEEEEEEEE! I cannot express my love for her enough. I am leaving a comment JUST TO DO SO.

I liked whatshisface in Castle in the Air though. Didn't LOVE him, but didn't dislike him.

I found myself unable to truly enjoy the Howl's Moving Castle movie because their version of Howl is so NOT HOWL, and I just couldn't get past it.