Category Archives: Fantasy

Bleach – Volume 1 by Tite Kubo

Image Description: the book-cover of Bleach Volume 1 by Tite Kubo. The cover is a mostly white background with an adolescent male with orange hair wearing a black robe and pulling a sword out of a sheath.
Title: Bleach – Volume 1
Author: Tite Kubo
Social Media: Goodreads and Twitter
Publisher: Viz Media
Format and Price: Paperback at $10.56
Rating: 4 out of 5

About The Author:
Tite Kubo, the son of a town council member in Fuchu, Aki District, Hiroshima. He never took drawing seriously until he was 17; after reading Dragon Ball he knew he wanted to be a manga artist. At the age of 18 he submitted his first concept for the series Zombiepowder but it got rejected. Zombiepowder was rejected multiple times until Kubo was 22, when it finally was accepted by Shonen Jump. It did not last long; it was cancelled after four volumes in late 2000. His next series, Bleach, about a high school student who becomes a shinigami and fights hollows, was not such a failure. Bleach began regular publication in 2001. It has been running in Weekly Shonen Jump ever since.

About The Book:
Hot-tempered 15-year-old Ichigo Kurosaki, the hero of the popular fantasy-adventure Bleach , has the unsettling ability to see spirits who are unable to rest in peace. His sixth sense leads him to Rukia, a Soul Reaper who destroys Hollows (soul-devouring monsters) and ensures the deceased find repose with the Soul Society. When she’s injured in battle, Rukia transfers her sword and much of her power to Ichigo, whose spiritual energy makes him a formidable substitute Soul Reaper. But the orange-haired teenager isn’t sure he wants the job: too many risks and moral dilemmas.

General Observations:
~Sliding Scale of Plot VS Character: The series Bleach is very Action orientated (lots of fight scenes) but the story itself is more Character orientated, when Tite Kubo focuses on specific characters, he does a great job, but the plot is slow. In fact, with Bleach, there are a lot of subtle hints and clues that a first-time reader might not necessarily pick up. There’s also a lot of back-story and character history that is only hinted at within the first three volumes, but it does get explained and does make sense.

~I Found This Humerus: While there are lots of good fight scenes (if that’s what you’re into), it’s the wide range of humour that I enjoy the most about this series. As the series progresses, it does get Darker and Edgier, so the humour balances things out.

~Long Term Commitment: While I think highly of the Bleach Manga series, I did stop reading the series half-way through The Lost Agent Arc. This is for multiple reasons, the primary reason being Arc Fatigue and the fact that the reader in dumped right into the middle of a time-skip and I was introduced to a whole bunch of new characters (via an organization called “Xcution”) that I cared very little for (mind you, this is at least 50 volumes into a 74 Volume series). I’m going to attempt to read it from the beginning.

All in all, it’s a good action urban fantasy with a super intricate plot, and I am happy to recommend.

Available For Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Fruits Basket: Volume 1 by Takaya Natsuki

Image Description: the front cover of a manga-book, Fruits Basket - Volume 1. The front cover depicts a peach-coloured background, while in the foreground there is a female high-school student with long brown hair and brown eyes in a navy-blue and white high-school uniform, kneeling on the ground and smiling up at the reader.
Image Description: the front cover of a manga-book, Fruits Basket – Volume 1. The front cover depicts a peach-coloured background, while in the foreground there is a female high-school student with long brown hair and brown eyes in a navy-blue and white high-school uniform, kneeling on the ground and smiling up at the reader.
Title: Fruits Basket: Volume 1
Author: Takaya Natsuki
Publisher: Chuang Yi Publishing Pte Ltd
Format and Price: Paperback at $15.00 (I bought the series years ago)
Rating: 5 out of 5

About The Author/Artist:
Natsuki Takaya (real name Naka Hatake) is the penname of a Japanese manga artist best-known for creating the series Fruits Basket. She was born in Shizuoka, Japan, but was raised in Tokyo, where she made her debut in 1992. She enjoys video games such as the Final Fantasy series or Sakura Wars, or working on her different manga series, such as Fruits Basket, which is the second best-selling shōjo manga ever in Japan, and the top selling shōjo manga in North America. Fruits Basket has also been adapted into a twenty-six-episode anime series. In 2001, Takaya received a Kodansha Manga Award for shōjo manga for Fruits Basket.

According to Takaya (in a sidebar of a Fruits Basket manga volume), she enjoys drawing girls (girly ones) more than she does boys. Takaya also enjoys electronics and music, but dislikes talking about herself. Also revealed in a sidebar of Fruits Basket, Takaya broke her drawing arm (left) after Fruits Basket volume six was published. She had to go into surgery, and as a result, had put Fruits Basket on a brief hiatus. Takaya made a full recovery, but complains that her handwriting had gotten uglier, due to the surgery. During her hospital stay, she gained an interest in baseball.

About The Manga:
A family with an ancient curse…

And the girl who will change their lives forever…

Tohru Honda was an orphan with no place to go until the mysterious Sohma family offered her a place to call home. Now her ordinary high school life is turned upside down as she’s introduced to the Sohma’s world of magical curses and family secrets.

General Observations:
~An Introduction: Volume One is a great introduction of what is to come and the slow progression of meeting the individual members of the Zodiac, one at a time, complete with whacky-antics, shenanigans and surprisingly depressing back-stories (seriously depressing, have your tissues ready). I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the cast of characters were diagnosed with PTSD, especially since Tohru is a pretty good example of a Stephford Smiler.

~Nostalgia Goggles: Fruits Basket is one of the first shojo manga series I ever read so I have a deep love for it and I am completely bias towards it, despite the possibly problematic elements that surface later on. I’m not saying people shouldn’t watch the anime adaptation of the manga, but if you only watch the anime, you missing ENORMOUS chunks from the narrative that only get resolved later on. This manga series is a long term investment, so buckle up and get ready for the ride, I promise it’s worth the wait.

~I Found This Humerus: Despite the fact that its darker as the series progresses, Natsuki Takaya is a great comedy writer and the humour is what brings it back into the light.

~Dysfunction Junction: I don’t want to spoil the series but as the reader slowly gets to know more and more about Tohru Honda, Yuki Sohma, Kyo Sohma, Shigure Sohma, her immediate family members, her friends Uo and Hana (although volumes focusing on them appear much later down the track) as well as other members of The Sohma family, I couldn’t help but notice the common theme: everyone’s family is messed up.

Hana’s family is at the positive end of the scale (mostly positive with some added weird and quirkiness), while The Sohma family belongs at the opposite end the scale (seriously fucked up and emotionally abusive, verbally abusive and occasionally physically abusive in multiple ways/levels). So, while the first few volumes come across as a slap-stick family comedy/drama, I just wanted to put in a family abuse trigger warning in here.

All in all, a great beginning to a complex series, completely worthy of 5 stars and I’m happy to recommend to anyone and everyone

Available for purchase: Amazon and Book Depository

Book Review: Saga, Volume One by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Image Description: book cover of Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Title: Saga, Volume One
Author: Brian K. Vaughan (Writer) and Fiona Staples (Artist)
Publisher: Image Comics
Format and Price: From the Image Comics website, Print Book at US $9.99 (AU $13.22) and Digital Book/PDF at US $7.99 (AU $10.58)
Rating: 4 out of 5

About The Writer:
Brian K. Vaughan is the award-winning writer of comics like Saga, Y: The Last Man and The Private Eye, a digital, pay-what-you-want series available at his site PanelSyndicate.com. His upcoming works for Image Comics include the futuristic military thriller We Stand on Guard with artist Steve Skroce and the young adult mystery Paper Girls with Cliff Chiang. He sometimes dabbles in television, including stints on the hit series Lost and Stephen King’s Under the Dome.

About The Artist:
Fiona Staples is a comic book artist living in Calgary, Canada. She has illustrated comics such as Mystery Society, Done to Death, Secret History of the Authority: Hawksmoor, Jonah Hex, and Northlanders, and contributed covers to DV8, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, Criminal Macabre, Superman/Batman, Archie, and more. Her work on the 2009 horror series North 40 was nominated for an Eisner Award, and she took home the 2011 Shuster Award for Outstanding Cover Artist. She’s currently working on the ongoing Image series Saga, with writer Brian K. Vaughan.

About The Book:
When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.

From bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan, Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.

What I Enjoyed:
~Stunning Visuals: I love the visual artistry involved with this graphic novel, Fiona Staples is an absolutely amazing artist here. Although, I must also add there is graphic violence involved, this is a graphic novel set during a time of civil war after all, so some violence is to be expected. But there’s also some graphic nudity, sexual content and, quiet frankly, some weird stuff. Let’s just say that there are some characters that make Robot Prince IV (a humanoid alien with a television for a head – and yes there’s an entire race of people just like him) look perfectly normal.

Image Description: a graphic picture of sex-workers who appear to exist as an overly-large head (with hair and facial features just like a regular head) with a pair of legs in fish-net stockings attached to where a neck and torso would normally be.

Exhibit A: torso-less sex workers.


How do they brush their hair? How??

~Intriguing Plot: I don’t want to go into spoiler territory but I feel as though the blurb doesn’t give enough information. The main story (although there are HEAPS of interesting and interconnecting sub-plots) is centred around two Alien races, one from the moon Wreath and Landfall, the planet that Wreath circles around. Centuries ago, civil war broke out between these two parties, but they eventually realised they couldn’t technically destroy each other so they expanded their civil war onto other planets which meant innocent people were caught in the cross-fire and third-parties became invested in the civil war.

Marko, who is one of the main characters and an alien from Wreath (commonly called Horns because they have horns or ‘Moonies’ as a slur) and Alana, who is also one of the main characters (commonly called ‘Wings’ because they have wings), meet when Marko hands himself over as a prisoner of war and the two of them fall in love, run away together and have a child.

The problem is that the respective Governments of Wreath and Landfall don’t approve of this development, so Wreath representatives have sent out Bounty Hunters to kill the parents and capture the child and Landfall representatives have sent out Robot Prince IV to kill the parents and kill the child. That might not sound like an interesting summary, but it is a fascinating and engaging narrative that has interesting themes about the impact of war and does briefly touch on PTSD (this is expanded upon in later volumes for both Alana and Marko), the plot and multiple sub-plots are all intriguing and interconnected so no panel is wasted.

~Excellent Characterisation: Along the way, the reader gets to know Marko, Alana and Hazel (an adult version of Hazel is narrating the story). Then there’s the various secondary characters that gravitate towards Marko and Alana like Isobelle and Marko’s parents. The reader finds out small slivers of their back story which made me eager to find out more. The reader also learns about the antagonists as well, like the Bounty Hunter The Will and Robot Prince IV, all the parties involved are playing a high-stakes game but there is an element of everyone being a pawn in someone else’s game-board.

What I Didn’t Enjoy:
~Faux Action Girl: One of the Bounty Hunters hired by Wreath to kill Marko and Alana and capture Hazel is The Stalk (all the freelance bounty hunters are called “The Noun” for some reason), now The Will says there’s no point in him even going after the couple because, as far as he’s concerned, if The Stalk is pursuing them then Marko and Alana are as good as dead.

Through dialogue exchanged between The Will and The Stalk, the reader learns that The Will and The Stalk were involved in a sexual relationship, however, The Will broke it off when he found out that The Stalk was willing to sleep with other people in order to capture her target.

So, thus far, The Stalk is built up to be this ruthless bounty hunter who is powerful, dangerous and is willing to do whatever it takes to get the assignment done (I have no problems with this). The Stalk is also intelligent to know her strengths and weaknesses, so when she feels that she’s out of her depth, she contacts The Will and asks him for help and when he acts like a jerk, she gives him the proverbial finger and hangs up.

So, naturally, what happens by the end of volume one? The Stalk is accidentally killed (more on this later). To me, The Stalk is a fascinating character, but all of her “Action Girl” credentials are told to the reader and not shown. A character needs to be shown earning the title of “Bad-arse”, I wanted more action scenes with her and I feel, as a reader, The Stalk deserved better.

This is also because the relationship between The Stalk and The Will becomes an important factor to The Will’s character development and actions later on. While I will acknowledge that the relationship between The Will and The Stalk is expanded on in later volumes, however, there are problematic elements to this (I’ll expand on this further).

~Stuffed Into The Fridge: The Stalk isn’t killed off accidentally because it’s an organic element of the plot, I know why she was killed, The Stalk was killed off for multiple reasons. Robot Prince IV needed a ship that would take him to where he wanted to go and The Stalk’s ship was conveniently located nearby with information Robot Prince IV needed to know about Marko and Alana.

The Stalk was also killed off so that her death would act a catalyst for character development in The Will, he was talking to her on the phone as she was accidentally killed, so The Will took it badly (he did love her after all). Because of this action taken by Robot Prince IV, The Will is determined to hunt him down and enact revenge against Robot Prince IV. Thus the character The Stalk is no longer a three-dimensional character with her own narrative, but a convenient plot-device and The Stalk deserved better than to be used as a plot-device for someone else’s character development.

Prince Robot IV could easily have kidnapped The Stalk or forced her into cooperating with her, thus the writer could still have Robot Prince IV being able to access her ship. The writer could also still have the revenge antagonist plot between The Will and Robot Prince IV with The Will pursuing Prince Robot IV to help rescue The Stalk, which could have been turned around into an easy subversion (“I didn’t need to be rescued, he was taking me straight to the target”).

I’m not so much annoyed that an interesting character was killed off, there needs to be genuine risks and stakes for a character in order for the narrative to be engaging, it just seemed like The Stalk’s death was pointless and the plot-goals could still be achieved with her being alive. Perhaps if The Stalk had been killed off in Volume Two or Three I would have been able to accept it easier.

In conclusion, it’s a great comic series with an interesting cast of characters and engaging plot, although there are some problematic elements involved. I have enjoyed reading the Saga series thus far and I’m happy to recommend.

Available for purchase from Book Depository and Image Comics

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

a-darker-shade-of-magic1
Title: A Darker Shade of Magic (Book One in the Shades of Magic series)
Author: V.E. Scwab
Social Media: Facebook, Goodreads, Tumblr and Twitter
Publisher: Titan Books
Format and Price: Paperback at $12.74 and E-Book at $6.29
Rating: 5 out of 5

About The Author:
Victoria is the product of a British mother, a Beverly Hills father, and a southern upbringing. Because of this, she has been known to say “tom-ah-toes,” “like,” and “y’all.” She also tells stories.She loves fairy tales, and folklore, and stories that make her wonder if the world is really as it seems.

About The Book:
Kell is one of the last travelers–magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.

There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King–George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered–and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London–a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure. Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive

General Observations:
~Jumping On The Bandwagon: Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m rather late to the “Victoria Schwab is Awesome” party, but I figured better late than never, but it does give me the feeling that everything that could be said about this series has already been said.

~Plot and Structure: The plot is brilliant and the narrative pacing is fast and fluid but not so fast that I couldn’t figure it out and there were also slower introspective character-orientated moments (more on this later) that worked well as a contrast. I loved the political intrigue that was spread out throughout three similar but different worlds, after all Royalty acts similar regardless of dimension, however, I also love the very concept that a being like Kell, someone who could travel between dimensions, could exist and what kind of life that would be like.

~Three Dimensional Characters: I loved Lila Bard and Kell, but I also kind of had a soft spot for Holland, he did have a point with some of his speeches and his Fate Worse Than Death situation made him super sympathetic (though it doesn’t excuse all his actions). Holland’s position was easy to understand, Holland was certainly a product of his environment, but it was clear his hand was forced and he was the lesser of the two Evils the Danes twins represented, but even then, their motivations were also understandable (although their characters were reprehensible).

In conclusion, an excellent blending of intriguing plot and interesting characters, I’ve already begun to read A Gathering of Shadows and am looking forward to the third book coming out this year (or at least I think it’s coming out this year). I’m happy to recommend this series.

Available For Purchase From: Book Depository | Kobo Books | Amazon

The Shades of Magic series:
01. A Darker Shade of Magic
02. A Gathering of Shadows
03. A Conjuring of Light

The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

The Sin Eater's Daughter
Title: The Sin Eater’s Daughter
Author: Melinda Salisbury
Social Media: Twitter and Tumblr
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Source: Book supplied by Collins Booksellers – Bacchus Marsh
Rating: 3 out of 5

Warning: This Review Contains Spoilers

About The Author:
Melinda Salisbury lives by the sea, somewhere in the south of England. As a child she genuinely thought Roald Dahl’s Matilda was her biography, in part helped by her grandfather often mistakenly calling her Matilda, and the local library having a pretty cavalier attitude to the books she borrowed. Sadly she never manifested telekinetic powers. She likes to travel, and have adventures. She also likes medieval castles, non-medieval aquariums, Richard III, and all things Scandinavian The Sin Eater’s Daughter is her first novel.

About The Book:
I am the perfect weapon.
I kill with a single touch.

Twylla is blessed. The Gods have chosen her to marry a prince, and rule the kingdom. But the favour of the Gods has it’s price. A deadly poison infuses her skin. Those who anger the queen must die under Twylla’s fatal touch. Only Lief, an outspoken new guard, can see past Twylla’s chilling role to the girls she truly is. Yet in a court as dangerous and the queen’s, some truths should not be told…

Aspects I Enjoyed:
~Book Cover Art: I love the cover of this book, it’s the reason I picked up the book in the first place.

~Strong World Building: The author has put a lot of effort into constructing the religion, history and geography of Twylla’s world, despite being a completely different world (maybe magic or maybe mundane?), it was realistic and believable. I found the role of Sin Eater to be fascinating, I loved the food symbolism.

~Interesting Plot: The premise of the novel’s plot, a mixture of The Sleeping Prince and a Deadly Decadent Court were intriguing, however the Stupid Pointless Love Triangle takes over and pushes these sub-plots to the side.

Aspects I Had Problems With:
~Stupid Pointless Love Triangle I despise Love Triangles, mostly because they are tedious, predictable, and take up valuable narrative space that could have been devoted to the much more interesting Fantasy Plot and unfortunately The Sin Eater’s Daughter suffers from that. I kept waiting for Twylla to realise both sides of the love triangle were assholes. The Prince and Lief needed her far more than she needed them and that she was better off without either of them. My interpretation of the confrontation scene with Lief and The Prince was that both men valued Twylla’s virginity more so than Twylla herself.

~The Prince: In my honest opinion, while I understand the guy hasn’t had the best childhood, the Prince is an asshole. When Twylla was first “adopted” into the family, The Prince spent zero amount of time with her, then he went traveling around the neighboring countries for FOUR years (only coming home when he absolutely had to and practically ignored Twylla), while he was traveling (before and after he was betrothed to Twylla) he never sent letters to Twylla or bothered to get to know her until he was forced to come home. The Prince barely knew her. So his anguished declaration that he “prayed for her” and that he was in love with Twylla the entire time makes no sense and is completely unbelievable.
Either The Prince is an excellent manipulator, specializing in unnecessary guilt trips, or he’s a massive hypocrite. After all, The Prince is 21 years old (in comparison, Twylla is only 17 years old, why is this a theme in Young Adult Books?), he’s been able to make choices about his life (however limited) and he’s been able to break away from the sheltered experiences of Palace Life, something Twylla is repeatedly denied. Also, I very much doubt the Prince was celibate in the FOUR LONG YEARS he spent away from the palace.

~Evil Queen Cliche: There’s a lot of double standards and internalized misogyny involved when evoking the Evil Matriarch stereotype, especially when drawn in comparison to the Princess archetype. The problem is that the Queen isn’t just a lazy sterotype, she’s Cersie Lannister 2.0, nor does she have any likable or relatable aspects.

~Tacked On Epilogue: For me, the epilogue didn’t add anything to the story and it ruined all the hard work the author had put into the relationship conflict. Had the author left the story with Twylla pondering “Which path do I choose?” that would have been a good sequel hook, instead I was disappointed and really confused about what had happened.

Overall, I felt that The Sin Eater’s Daughter had a lot of potential however the author chose to focus on the detrimental romantic relationship aspect instead, so while it might not be aligned with my particular interests, I can see the book achieving mainstream success and popularity

Clariel by Garth Nix

Clariel
Title: Clariel
Author: Garth Nix
Social Media: Facebook and Twitter
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Price and Format: eBook at $14.69
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

About The Book:
Sixteen-year-old Clariel is not adjusting well to her new life in the city of Belisaere, the capital of the Old Kingdom. She misses roaming freely within the forests of Estwael, and she feels trapped within the stone city walls. And in Belisaere she is forced to follow the plans, plots and demands of everyone, from her parents to her maid, to the sinister Guildmaster Kilp. Clariel can see her freedom slipping away. It seems too that the city itself is descending into chaos, as the ancient rules binding Abhorsen, King and Clayr appear to be disintegrating.

With the discovery of a dangerous Free Magic creature loose in the city, Clariel is given the chance both to prove her worth and make her escape. But events spin rapidly out of control. Clariel finds herself more trapped than ever, until help comes from an unlikely source. But the help comes at a terrible cost. Clariel must question the motivations and secret hearts of everyone around her – and it is herself she must question most of all.

General Observations:
~Slow Plot: It felt as though the plot didn’t really pick up until Clariel left Belisaere and began to travel with Bel. I found it difficult to relate the story of Clariel back to the other narratives of the Old Kingdoms. I kept thinking, “How does this relate to the Old Kingdom Trilogy?”, especially since the book kept associating Clariel as the lost Abhorsen. However, when I figured out Clariel’s future identity I found the story easier to process.

~Loads and Loads of Characters: The book series makes a big deal about how the blood lineages of the Royal Family, The Abhorsens, The Clayr are all connected, however the truth is that the Abhorsen and Clayr family have little to do with the main story, Bel and the main Abhorsen family are side-characters. I think Clariel introduced a lot of side-characters who were interesting but I felt Garth Nix didn’t really use them to their full potential.

~Designated Protagonist Syndrome: While I liked Clariel as a character, I felt she was a little bland, her future identy seems a lot more interesting. Garth Nix states he isn’t sure of the events that led Clariel to become who she is in future, this is one of my major pet peeves with authors as I feel that this is mostly a cop-out, as a writer he may not know the specifics but he should at least have a general idea. I found Clariel was most interesting when she struggled against temptation, the fact that most of the time she was able to resist makes her future identity choice interesting, but not surprising. However, I did find Mogget’s previous statements about her were contradictory, he clearly didn’t know her well enough to pass judgement and give a proper evaluation on her.

~In-Universe Time-Line Confusion: I would have preferred it if Garth Nix had made a short time-line note, like “this is x amount of years before the events of Sabriel”, I’m estimating that Clariel takes place centuries before Sabriel, that’s quite a gap, which did make it rather bitter-sweet to see how the Abhorsen were once a large clan (that didn’t always agree or get along) reduced to a single line of succession. The role of Abhorsen isn’t just genetic, there is an element of choice involved.

All in all, an okay read that wasn’t quite what I expected, but it was interesting to read more about the Old Kingdom’s previous history.

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Howls-Moving-Castle
Title: Howl’s Moving Castle
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Format and Price: eBook at $7.99

About The Author:
Diana Wynne Jones was the author of more than thirty critically acclaimed fantasy stories, including the Chrestomanci series and the novels Howl’s Moving Castle and Dark Lord of Derkholm. For Diana Wynne Jones’s official autobiography, please see The Official Diana Wynne Jones Website – Autobiography

About The Book:
‘In the land of Ingary, where seven league boots and cloaks of invisibility do exist, Sophie Hatter catches the unwelcome attention of the Witch of the Waste and is put under a spell.’
Deciding she has nothing more to lose she makes her way to the moving castle that hovers on the hills above Market Chipping. But the castle belongs to the dreaded Wizard Howl whose appetite, they say, is satisfied only by the souls of young girls… There she meets Michael, Howl’s apprentice, and Calcifer the Fire Demon, with whom she agrees a pact.
But Sophie isn’t the only one under a curse – her entanglements with Calcifer, Howl, and Michael, and her quest to break her curse is both gripping – and ‘howlingly’ funny!

Aspects I Liked and Enjoyed:
~Brilliant Plot: Everything in the novel is connected and there are no coincidences, the author has clearly put a lot of effort into it, as a result the narrative flow is good

~Interesting Characters: Calcifer, who is rather Mogget-like in nature, is my favorite character in the novel but Sofie, Howl and Michael have their moments. I enjoy reading about characters who display Genre Savvy abilities

~Readability: I found it easy and enjoyable to read and the Author made sure not to get too bogged down in all the World Building (a common trait with the first book a series)

Book vs Movie

There are some distinctive differences been the book and the movie:

  • In The Novel, Sophie’s family are more prominent and are an active part of the plot, in The Movie, they have been mostly removed and The Witch of The Waste’s character as been altered and expanded upon. Howl’s family has been completely removed, however Howl’s family weren’t strictly relevant to the plot.
  • In the Novel, Howl’s portal device can switch between our world (Earth) and the world of Magic (Market Chipping), in The Movie, it’s an entirely fictional place with steam-punk technology
  • As I stated before, The Witch of The Waste’s character (the main Antagonist in the novel) is altered and is simply an annoying side-character in the movie, however Michael has been changed from 15 year old apprentice to be a boy of 5 and Wizard Sulliman and Mrs Penstemmon have been combined into a composite character and is the film’s main antagonist instead

Now, I will confess that I saw the Howl’s Moving Castle Studio Ghibli production directed by Hayao Miyazaki first, then read the book, however I feel both can be enjoyed on their own.
RMFAO 2015 Genre Challenge

%d bloggers like this: