Study Guide

Howl's Moving Castle Genre

By Diana Wynne Jones

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Children's Literature, Fairytale, Fantasy, Romance

Howl's Moving Castle has the (mostly) lighthearted, simple narration of a chapter book for older kids and younger teenagers, which is why we're putting it in the children's lit genre. After all, when it was published it won honorable mentions for two prizes specifically given to examples of children's literature: the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, and the American Library Association (ALA) Award. It has also received a Best of the Best selection in Young Adult fiction by the ALA, which we're taking as a pretty good sign that this is fiction meant for younger audiences.

While Howl's Moving Castle isn't a traditional fairytale, it uses a lot of fairytale devices (seven-league boots, curses and enchantments, sets of three siblings, and so on) to set up its story line. Jones mostly plays on these clich├ęs for humor, since Sophie turns out to be perfectly successful despite her status as the oldest of three daughters. Really Howl's Moving Castle is a parody of traditional fairytales. And of course, any novel that involves fire demons and made-up lands is probably a fantasy novel, so we'll throw in that genre as well.

Last but not least, despite the evil witches and demonic contracts, the real core of the plot of Howl's Moving Castle is the growing relationship between Sophie and Howl. Sure neither of them will precisely admit to it, what with Sophie's giant denial that anyone could want to be with her and Howl's secrecy about trying to help her with her curse behind her back. But once the two of them finally get some sense in Chapter Twenty-One and finally admit their feelings, we realize what's been growing between them all along: true love, in good fairytale fashion.

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