Plot: Sophie is the eldest of three sisters. She is also the one who took over their father’s hat shop after he passed away. One day while out walking to meet her sister, Lettie, Sophie ran into the infamous wizard Howl. He is said to eat the hearts of young, pretty girls to keep his youth. Later that night the evil Witch of the Waste visits Sophie at the hat shop, and in her jealous rage, puts a curse on Sophie to make her look and feel like a 90 year old woman. Sophie sets out to find Howl so that they can work together to get their curses from the Witch of the Waste off. Along the way Sophie runs into all sorts of colorful characters who have also had spells put on them, and she learns something new about herself, as well.
Review: With magic, spells, wizards, witches, and a powerful fire demon, this book is a must read. Jones has created a fantastic experience that will blow your imagination away. With characters like Sophie, Howl, Calcifer, and the scarecrow you can’t help but be excited for more while reading this book. Sophie was just a hat maker, but now she has a curse on her that makes her look and feel like she is 90 years old. Howl has a curse of his own and they both want to get back at the Witch of the Waste for putting these curses on them. Through their magical adventures to find the Witch of the Waste, Sophie, Howl, and Calcifer grow into new characters who learn who they really are and their importance in the world.
Reading Level/Interest Level: 5.4/5-8 graders
Similar Materials: Stardust, by Neil Gaiman, The Wee Free Men, by Terry Pratchet
Reader’s Advisory: This book has two sequels that have different characters, but you get to re-meet Sophie, Howl and Calcifer in each one. The sequels include: Castle in the Air and House of Many Ways. Dianna Wynne Jones has a lot of really good books, but his one is one of my favorites and thought it would be a good addition to my collection. It really is a magical adventure with unexpected twists. Highly recommended.