This was such a fun story! Not what I was expecting, but really really enjoyable.
What was I expecting? Something a little more.... anime. After all, that's what the movie is. (Which I haven't seen yet, but it's around here somewhere.)
Diana Wynne Jones never disappoints, I've decided. She may confuse, but she doesn't disappoint.
I was slightly confused by parts of this book, but that may come more from finishing it at about 2 a.m..... Who knows.
Sophie is the eldest of three sisters, and so naturally everyone knows she can never amount to much. The eldest never does, you know. (Hmm... should I take that personally?)
But when her sisters switch places and a witch turns her into an old woman, it appears Sophie will have no choice but to seek her fortune.
Which leads us to Howl, or Pendragon, or Howell, or Jenkins.... whatever you want to call him. The heartless wizard who lives in a moving castle and, as everyone knows, goes about stealing women's souls and eating their hearts. Or something to that effect.
Add in a fire demon with an attitude and a sweet if sometimes daft apprentice and you have a wonderful story.
AND if that wasn't wonderful enough, there are TWO companion books/sequels!! Castle in the Air and House of Many Ways. Which I now need to get my hands on. :D
(Also fabulous are the Chronicles of Crestomanci by Diana Wynne Jones.)