I thought Howl’s Moving Castle was the world’s best book for a long time, and I still really enjoy it. It is very well crafted and just feels well-balanced and clean. I read this book in the library when I was nine or ten, and it was out of print, so I was unable to get a copy. And then one day my grandmother took me to a used bookstore in San Francisco, and I found it! This was like magic to me. Since then, it’s come back into print(which a lot of Diana Wynne Jones’ books did with the advent of Harry Potter), and there was even a movie made out of it.
In the book, Sophie Hatter, a young girl, has a curse put on her so that she has the appearance of an old woman. Unsure to adapt her new looks to her old life, she takes refuge in the castle of Howl, a goodlooking wizard with a bad reputation.
I only could ever imagine Howl with blond hair.
But, in truth, he’s not all that evil. Sophie sets about reconstituting her life, finding a fair amount of freedom in having all expectations dropped (before the change, she was facing a future of selling hats). There are other plots, and there’s not really much overtly going on between Sophie and Howl, but, by the time, the book is done, the curse is dropped, and they’re together.
Young Adult Me: Thought Howl was a hilarious, sexy character, and it was kind of fun to just get to see him as a whole person instead of a love object through most of the book. It was like an antiromance love story. Sophie had zero love life, and her character was solid, steady, reliable–nothing that really makes her that notable (as she mildly laments), but they were qualities that began to seem more and more golden during the plot twists and when set alongside Howl’s more bombastic qualities, makes it clear they match internally…so it all works out when Sophie finally gets her externals straight!
Adult Me: Sees commonality with Howl’s Moving Castleand The Witch of Blackbird Pond. I feel like they both (more Howl) focused on developing the characters who go into these couples to the point where our realizations of them are so complete that we recognize that they belong together, even though I don’t even think they touch once before the last five pages. Though I do recall some intense gazing, the nontouch touch.
Mel by Liz Berry
Well, and then there’s Mel. I will say that the romances that seem to have lingered in my mind seem to be the “deeper” ones, but there were definitely a lot of books I was reading for more salacious reasons. Melwas probably half and half. The eponymous Mel
Not the cover of the book I read, but definitely indicative of Mel’s personality.
attends one of these mysterious art schools that I was just beginning to recognize that all “cool” people in Britain seemed to be shunted off into. Her mother goes crazy and is in the mental hospital, and Mel decides to redecorate their apartment for her return. In the mean time she has crush on one of her teacher’s, and she’s flirting with this handsome boy who works at an antiques store where she buys stuff for the apartment. And then it turns out the handsome boy is a famous rock star. There’s lots of sexual tension and then Mel seems to exchange her virginity for a desk? Sort of . . .
Young Adult Me: Was pretty into the idea of a cute, rich rock star rescuing me and taking me out to fabulous parties and like all the physical action. I also was charmed by Mel’s interior decoration escapades.
Adult Me: Is embarrassed by my transparent Cinderella fantasies and finds something creepy about the whole book. The one thing that really still seems remarkable to me is how bluntly the book took on certain social issues like welfare, interracial relationships, mental health. I also think Mitch (the rock star) holds up well. He was a nice guy, and he did deliver the desk.
The Unsinkable Molly Malone