Howl’s Moving Castle #3. Author: Diana Wynn Jones.
Charmain Baker is in over her head. Looking after Great-Uncle William’s tiny cottage while he’s ill should have been easy. But Great-Uncle William is better known as the Royal Wizard Norland, and his house bends space and time. Its single door leads to any number of places—the bedrooms, the kitchen, the caves under the mountains, the past, and the Royal Mansion, to name just a few.
By opening that door, Charmain has become responsible for not only the house, but for an extremely magical stray dog, a muddled young apprentice wizard, and a box of the king’s most treasured documents. She has encountered a terrifying beast called a lubbock, irritated a clan of small blue creatures, and wound up smack in the middle of an urgent search. The king and his daughter are desperate to find the lost, fabled Elfgift—so desperate that they’ve even called in an intimidating sorceress named Sophie to help. And where Sophie is, can the Wizard Howl and fire demon Calcifer be far behind?
Of course, with that magical family involved, there’s bound to be chaos—and unexpected revelations.
No one will be more surprised than Charmain by what Howl and Sophie discover.
Hmm. Despite all my “Flawed characters are Realistic and great” with the first book, I like Charmain much less than Sophie. I have a deep-laid Clean Streak, and even as an avid reader who would 100% vanish into a wizard’s library first chance, it’s terribly annoying to read about someone ignoring mounds of dishes and mountains of laundry to read.
At the beginning of the story Charmain has been assigned to house-sitting for a family member (wizard) while he’s in the hospital, but soon enough she gets pulled into the expected plot tangle. Lost Gold, Angry Kobolds, Mysterious Monsters, and a couple of rampaging toddlers join forces to create confusion. Charmain never really engages with the plot line. She’d much rather be home reading at any given point, except when she’s working in the Royal Library, and although she learns – under duress – how to wash dishes and do laundry, I fear that she has no plan of utilizing these skills in the future.
It’s still a fun romp – a totally new wizard’s house to discover, some rather sage house-cleaning maxims, and an unexpected minor-comedy part played by Howl.
Sexual Content: One character finds out her dog is pregnant, and says “Oh, the Cook’s dog!” as she realizes who the father must be.
Language: 1 ‘damnation’.
Violence: A dog eats two monsters which have been transfigured into squid. Later, a different dog kills two monsters which have been transfigured into rabbits. Monster lays eggs in kobold (barely a sentence, nothing gory).