Note: If you’ve never read Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, but plan to some day and don’t want things spoiled for you, in my chapter posts there could be spoilers.
In the land of Ingary where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of the three. Everyone knows you are the one who will fail first, and worst, if the three of you set out to seek your fortunes. – Chapter 1 of Howl’s Moving Castle
That’s how Howl’s Moving Castle begins. It’s such an interesting beginning, a unique one, in my opinion.
Although there are a number of characters in this book, Sophie Hatter is the one the story falls. She’s the eldest of three sisters and if she were to seek her fortune, she would fail first and the worst.
Sophie’s sisters are Martha and Lettie. Fanny, who was Sophie’s father’s wife, decides it is time to find the girls apprenticeships. Lettie is cooking and Martha is learning magic. Sophie is chosen to continue to work in her father’s business which is the hat shop. Sophie is not surprised and though not very happy, she resigns to the dull life of working in a hat shop.
Sophie would much rather seek her fortune and do something exciting, but she knows that life is not meant for her due to being the eldest. So, she works in the shop, talking to hats.
And of course, there is gossip about the Wizard Howl. He eats the hearts of young girls, they say. So all girls must be careful when they go so they are not taken by him.
And there is also the Witch of the Waste, who isn’t very pleasant herself.
Chapter 1 doesn’t really action, but rather sets up the story nicely and introduces people to some of the characters, especially Sophie. You can imagine not being able to do what you want because you’ll fail the worst? I think it would be horrible and just to deal with a life you don’t really want.
But chapter 1 is only just the beginning. It’s interesting, and at least for me, exciting.