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Megan Mabee has been filling notebooks with her story ideas and favorite book quotes since she first began reading. She enjoys board gaming, rewatching Miyazaki movies, and building Legos with her preschooler. Megan holds a Master of Library and Information Studies degree from UNC Greensboro and a Public Librarian Certification. Megan has worked in a college bookstore and high school library, and she now loves talking books in the public library where she works and as a Bibliologist at TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations.

Falling in love with fictional characters is one of my favorite pastimes, and there are few characters over the years I’ve fallen harder for than Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle. I have rewatched Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli film adaptation of Howl’s Moving Castle more times than I can count, and my copy of the original book written by Diana Wynne Jones boasts many of those tell-tale crinkles along its spine that reveal my love of rereading it. As Howl is wont to do within his own story, both the film and the book have stolen my heart.

The Wizard Howl is a character you can’t help but gravitate towards. While, yes, the handsome and charismatic wizard persona does hold plenty of appeal, a number of other nuances flesh him out. I like that he’s not perfect; he’s suave, nonchalant, grouchy, selfish, vain, fickle, misunderstood, brilliant, hilarious, yet also quite loving under all of that exterior. His character arc over the course of the story is quite swoon-worthy, too, and he does turn out to be an unlikely hero in the end.

Before I die on that hill about how much I love Howl, let’s not forget how badass Sophie is as a protagonist. For starters, I appreciate that Sophie describes herself as plain-looking. The bookish world is saturated with unrealistically beautiful protagonists, and I like how Sophie feels more relatable. When she gets hit with a curse that ages her into a 90-year-old woman, she doesn’t crumple up and throw in the towel either. Her fortitude and strength of character are admirable. She sets her mind on breaking her curse, and she does all in her power to do so. I love living inside Sophie’s head on her many escapades in Howl’s Moving Castle.

On top of how exceptional the characters in Howl’s Moving Castle are, the premise and world-building are atmospheric and awe-inspiring. The adventure takes place in a moving castle with a portal door that opens up at different cities and countryside locations. It’s one of my favorite fantasy settings.

If you’re like me and want to immerse yourself in similar stories, check out these fantastical books like Howl’s Moving Castle. Which book reminds you the most of Howl’s?


book cover of Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett

This delightful book by Heather Fawcett promises one of the closest Sophie/Howl vibes I’ve come across in a book. Cambridge professor Emily Wilde is very no-nonsense with dry humor and relatable woes, much like how we see Sophie become during her old age curse. Emily’s handsome colleague Wendell Bambley, on the other hand, casts such a charismatic and silly character, very much like Howl. Like Howl’s Moving Castle, the plot also involves our protagonists venturing into dangerous magical territory and undoing complicated enchantments. When Emily Wilde travels to the small northern town of Hrafnsvik to study an elusive Fair Folk, she’s quite perturbed to find Bambley joining her. Despite being her academic rival, she also considers him her only friend too, so there is that.

Cover image of

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Speaking of Howl and Sophie vibes, Holly Black’s iconic characters Jude and Prince Cardan promise a similar dynamic, too. While Jude is a hardworking and determined lead like Sophie, Cardan makes for quite the dapper and frivolous counterpart like Howl. In the aftermath of her parents’ murder, a young Jude and her two sisters are taken to live in the glamorous yet dangerous world of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude will find herself thrust into cutthroat political intrigue as heirs fight for the Blood Crown, and Prince Cardan infuriates her in the best possible way at every turn.

Inuyasha by Rumiko Takahashi cover

Inuyasha, VizBig Edition, Volume 1: Pulled Through Time! by Rumiko Takahashi

This fantasy manga series by Rumiko Takahashi will draw you into another delightful Sophie/Howl dynamic with the relatable teen Kagome and the feisty cursed demon Inu-Yasha. When Kagome gets pulled into a well and lands in feudal Japan, she releases a demon named Inu-Yasha from his imprisonment by mistake. Yet Kagome is nothing if not resourceful, and before long, she’ll find a way to keep Inu-Yasha by her side as the two get drawn on a perilous adventure.

Book cover of Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

This dark and romantic fantasy by Naomi Novik is one of my favorites, probably because it gives off a Howl and Sophie feel as well. Think of this story as Howl’s Moving Castle meets Birdbox. Agnieszka’s village remains safe from the haunted wood as the sorcerer named the Dragon holds back its dark forces. The only catch? The Dragon requires a young woman to help serve him in his tower every 10 years. While Agnieszka is sure her beautiful friend Kasia will be chosen next, she’s in for quite a surprise at the next choosing.

Book cover of That Time I Got Drunk and Saved a Demon by Kimberly Lemming

That Time I Got Drunk and Saved a Demon by Kimberly Lemming

Something I love most about Howl’s Moving Castle is the cozy fantasy romance feels, along with a nice dose of humor and banter between the characters. This romantasy by Kimberly Lemming checks off all of those boxes with the added bonus of some sexy spice. Switch out the word “drunk” for “cursed” in the title, and it’d be aptly named for Howl’s Moving Castle, too. When Cinnamon saves a drunk demon named Fallon, she gets caught up in an entirely unexpected quest to save his people.

Sorcery of Thorns cover

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

I think we can all agree that the magic of Howl’s Moving Castle wouldn’t be the same without the enigmatic fire demon Calcifer. His quote, “May all your bacon burn,” is iconic. This enchanting adventure by Margaret Rogerson stars a sorcerer and demon companion duo reminiscent of Howl and Calcifer. Elisabeth has grown up in one of the Great Libraries of Austermeer and loves the magical grimoires despite their occasional monstrous tendencies. When Elisabeth gets framed for the release of a dangerous grimoire, though, she’ll set off for the capital with a sorcerer named Nathaniel Thorn and his demon Silas.

Book cover of Before the Coffee Gets Cold

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

With its portal door, Howl’s Moving Castle feels like such a special place as it allows Sophie, Howl, and their crew to step into different locations through it. In both the book and film adaptations of Howl’s Moving Castle, Sophie is even able to visit Howl’s past through the castle door. This sense of an enchanted place with the capacity for time travel inspired me to pick this next book-in-translation by Toshikazu Kawaguchi. The story features an out-of-sight Tokyo café, where patrons who order a special coffee can travel back in time but must return before their coffee gets cold. I’m perpetually reheating my mug of tea, so I’m sure this would feel hard for me.

cover of Thistlefoot by GennaRose Nethercott; illustration of the chicken-leg house with two young people standing under it

Thistlefoot by GennaRose Nethercott

Of course, we can’t forget the iconic element of Howl’s Moving Castle: being able to move around. This eerie fantasy novel by GennaRose Nethercott promises a moving house, too. Despite their estrangement, Yaga siblings Bellatine and Isaac reunite after learning they’ve inherited a sentient, moving house. As the pair embark on a final tour of the country with their family’s theater show, a dark presence trails behind them.

The Enchanted Hacienda by J.C. Cervantes book cover

The Enchanted Hacienda By J.C. Cervantes

If you love the enchanted house vibes, cozy fantasy feels, and romance of Howl’s Moving Castle, check out this charming story by J.C. Cervantes. Plus, this story features enchanted flowers reminiscent of the flower gardens Howl creates through the portal door for Sophie to sell. In between losing her job and a breakup with her boyfriend, Harlow Estrada decides she needs the comfort of her magical family farm in Mexico.

cover of Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono, illustrated by Akiko Hayashi, translated by Lynne E. Riggs

Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono, Translated by Emily Balistrieri

I decided to wrap up this list of books like Howl’s Moving Castle with this classic novel-in-translation by Eiko Kadono. Like Howl’s, Kiki’s Delivery Service has also been adapted into a Studio Ghibli film, and these two share incredibly cozy fantasy feels. This sweet, slice-of-life story following young witch Kiki’s coming of age in a new city brings me as much comfort as Howl’s. While the Howl’s film hints at Sophie having magic, the book digs into her secret witch abilities a bit more, too. Plus, Kiki’s sassy cat companion Jiji gives off some serious Calcifer vibes as well.

More Magical Reads

I hope these books will bring you as much joy as Howl’s Moving Castle does. Can’t get enough of Howl’s? Me neither! For further reading, check out these articles below.

Read original article here.

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