Howl’s Moving Castle #2. Author: Diane Wynn Jones.
Far to the south of the land of Ingary, in the Sultanates of Rashpuht, there lived in the city of Zanzib a young and not very prosperous carpet dealer named Abdullah who loved to spend his time daydreaming. He was content with his life and his daydreams until, one day, a stranger sold him a magic carpet.
That very night, the carpet flew him to an enchanted garden. There, he met and fell in love with the beauteous princess Flower-in-the-Night, only to have her snatched away, right under his very nose, by a wicked djinn. With only his magic carpet and his wits to help him, Abdullah sets off to rescue his princess….
Hm… it’s okay.
I’m not sure if my reaction of “meh” is actually from the book, or just because I’ve read a lot of Aladdin retellings, and Aladdin isn’t even one of my favorite stories.
The insta-love is a strike, even in middle-grade. But on the plus side, Abdullah is an engaging main character, and the magic carpet is always good. Always.
The story’s mostly set in “the Sultanates of Rashpuht”, a land far to the south of Ingary, where the first story was set. We transition from one to the other three-quarters through though, highlighting one triumph of the writing: the countries and cultures feel distinct and different. From Abdullah’s speech and food to his country’s marriage customs and hospitality, even if it’s just because the author could pull on the flavor of the original story, the Rashpuht nationality is recognizable.
Sexual Content: Character is momentarily naked after transformation from animal to human (immediately clothed). Character comments on the custom of having multiple wives, saying that it seems rather unfair to the women when they can’t have multiple husbands.
Language: 2 d***ed, one d***
Violence: Young men try to ambush a soldier with knives – he ends up knocking all four out. Two men are turned into toads (and later, off screen, we are told they were killed by enemies when they turned back into people).