Howl's Moving Castle // Chapters 16 - 21 Discussion

Welcome back to the Howl's Moving Castle discussion. The first discussion on chapters 1-5 can be found here. The second discussion on chapters 6 - 10 can be found here. The third discussion on chapters 11 - 15 can be found here. I'm forever late on these discussions but I'm happy that I did all four of them. I'm going to take a break before I go on to Castle in the Air.

Last time we met Howl's family. Sophie learns she has magic in her. Sophie attempts but fails to blacken Howl's name to the king. Howl becomes a drama queen when he gets a cold. A dog man protects Sophie and hates Howl. Howl goes to a funeral. And the Witch of the Waste is closing in on Howl. Of course, spoilers ahead.

Chapter 16: In Which There is a Great Deal of Witchcraft

We start off the chapter with a bang. The Witch of the Waste has found Howl and they start fighting each other with illusions. Meanwhile, Calcifer becomes blurred into a dozen or so burning blue faces, shaking violently. Crazy imagery that I loved. These illusions have created the first step to setting a curse on Howl out of three I believe. Something having to do with mermaids.

Then Howl turns himself from a cat to a kitten and why oh why didn't they do this in the movie? I loved imagining an annoyed Howl as a kitten. What was with him giving alcohol to Calcifer to rejuvenate him for anyways? Why alcohol with a fire demon?

Chapter 17: In Which the Moving Castle Moves House

I love how Howl asks Sophie what they were going to sell in the shop. You can tell he cares about her and it makes me so happy.

Sophie finally sees Calcifer underneath and she notices a black lump with a dent. I know what it is already so it's pretty sad to know what it is.

I can't believe they put one of the positions of the castle at the edge of the waste. I liked Howl's response being that he was doing the thing the witch least expected.

Finally, Sophie realized Calcifer was a falling star after she saw him pulsating white when he was afraid as he was moved from the fire pit to make new house positions. Honestly, it was very good that she caught up on that based on how he looked at that moment. I find it interesting that the other falling stars didn't want to live on after they had fallen. Calcifer wanted to live. It made him very human in my eyes. I loved that Howl didn't create a contract with Calcifer because of selfish reasons but because he felt sorry for him like with taking in Michael and Sophie. He's always had a kind heart and it shows. Why didn't they show this in the movie? I love the direction the book is taking in these last few chapters because I don't expect any of them which I had a problem with before since I know the major events in the story because of said movie.

And of course Howl gets worried about Sophie getting hurt while going to the garden area. Love those little moments of concern.

Chapter 18: In Which the Scarecrow and Miss Angorian Reappear

I love how Howl charms ladies into getting more flowers. Then they avoid him when they see him around because they only want the one flower.

Sophie talking to the flowers like the hats made me think this time how clever of Jones to have a woman's power derive from talking. We are seen as the more sociable gender so it's funny that she did that. Then she makes the mistake of making another part of the curse come true with the mandrake root. Only one to go.

I felt so sorry that Calcifer was lonely wanting to see the outdoors. I think this marks a change in him. Well, he's always wanted out of the contract but you can finally see why. He wants to see the world.

Aha! The dog man was in the shop when she was cursed! I had questioned who he was then and now it comes full circle. I probably wouldn't have thought much of it otherwise if I hadn't been writing notes on the story so yay for me!

Miss Angorian comes to visit and Sophie doesn't like her. Sophie is as jealous as Howl would be.

Chapter 19: In Which Sophie Expresses Her Feelings with Weed-Killer

Sophie told Howl that the dog was a man under a spell. Howl didn't know and neither did Michael. Wow, she might be better at magic if she got some training in. Howl getting upset by her not telling him before showed his true character. He is a kind person who wants to help people.

After Howl changes him back the dog man or Percival doesn't remember who he is. Then we learn that he is made of parts from other men... Ew! Did not expect that in the least. What is the Witch of the Waste doing that for? Then we learn his is (at least partly) the Wizard Sulliman. Duh, duh, duh, duh!

Gasp! Howl knows Sophie isn't supposed to be old. Are you kidding me? He gets angry at her for not saying anything about Percival and he hasn't acknowledged she was under a spell this whole time? I would be so pissed! He even said she was doing it to herself which would be the real shock.

Chapter 20: In Which Sophie Finds Further Difficulties in Leaving the Castle

The hat married money! Fanny comes in as a newly married woman. Then comes Martha and Lettie. I'm thinking Howl set this up to fix the spell. If only they were more honest with each other than this could have been resolved sooner. She should have said her sister's names sooner.

Aha! Lettie likes Percival. They are all going to end up with someone. It's a little predictable but also nice since I love romance done right.

Another big moment arises when it's declared that the witch has found his sister's family. Very tumultuous well written part of the story even if it lasted for a little while. I hope there is some conclusion with his family and telling them the truth.

witch has found your sister's family

What!? The skull is Turnip Head's actual head!? Okay, so this turned into a real witch story. Creepy.

Lastly we learn about a Magician's golem and that Miss Angorian has been stolen. I know that rhymed and I'm quite pleased about it. How will this story end?

Chapter 21: In Which a Contract is Concluded Before Witnesses

Immediately without thinking Sophie uses the seven league boots. She discovers a fortress and becomes slimed up. Everything is revealed. Miss Angorian is the fire demon. She wants to use Howl's head to make the perfect human. Then there is a battle with a stick set on fire by Sophie. Howl's heart is crushed under the fire demon's hands easily because he actually has a soft heart (we knew). Sophie talks things to life so she talks to Howl's heart to save Calcifer and Howl. Whew! So many things in one chapter. I absolutely loved how everything worked out. I thought these last few chapters were so much more interesting. I like that the movie wasn't exactly the same as the book for once but I think I prefer the book's ending. Not everyone gets redeemed (the witch) and not everyone survives. It made me think if Calcifer would end up turning like the witch's demon eventually. Mad and wanting to control the world alongside the perfect human. Or is Calcifer to kind for that? Or was Calcifer turning Howl's heart dark which would change both of their personalities. Very interesting indeed.

We get the moment we've all been waiting for. Howl and Sophie together. Him commenting that he and Calcifer were both hoping you would break the contract so he liked her from the beginning. He made a comment about her original hair color. And he wondered if you she were the lovely girl he met on May Day which made me very teary eyed. I know she has the plain girl trope but it's nice to see when a girl who isn't absolutely beautiful to be looked at by a nice guy and fall in love. We close the story with them living happily ever after.


I loved the changes in the book vs. movie. I did find certain things predictable since I knew that Calcifer had Howl's heart and he was a falling star. I was a little frustrated that Sophie took forever to see that Howl didn't eat girl's hearts. I love the sweet moments of concern Howl showed Sophie. I loved the twists and turns at the end. Even in times that I was kind of bored because I felt like I knew the story well there were great quotes and scenes that made me so happy. I would have liked to see Howl talk to his sister. I want her to know who he really is. That was really the only disappointing part of the story. Diana Wynne Jones knows how to craft a story. I can't wait to read A Castle in the Air soon.

Thank you for following on this discussion/read with me for Howl's Moving Castle. I hope you had fun! Let me know what you think about the book vs. movie of Howl's Moving Castle.


back to top