Hi guys, I recently re-read the Howl’s Moving Castle Trilogy by Diana Wynne Jones and then watched the animated movie which was produced by Studio Ghibli, after which I had the sudden urge to write a ‘Movies vs Books’ segment; and yes, by segment, I mean it’s probably going to be a semi-regular thing (it depends on the time I have). So here it is; my first article in the ‘Movies vs Books’ segment. I hope you enjoy it and I hope you’ll read and watch the books/movies of whichever series I’ve written about.


First off, I have to state that Howl’s Moving Castle is a great movie; however, in saying that, I also have to admit that the books are far superior. When re-reading the books, I realised that in comparison, the movie is more or less aimed towards children while the books are aimed toward young adults and teens.

Although Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli only made a movie out of the first book in the trilogy, there are another two books which are just as entertaining. If you want to get the timeline right then you must start with ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ then read ‘Castle in the Air’ and finally ‘House of Many Ways’. Admittedly though, I think there could be more adventures in the HMC universe that Diana hasn’t written because the series just feels incomplete to me.


The most notable difference in the books as opposed to the movie, is that there is so much more detail and more information that explains a lot of things I was always confused about after watching the movie. I’ve listed a few of them below (I’ve got to leave some tidbits for you to discover by yourself).

  • Howl’s name is actually Howell Jenkins, a man from Wales in our world.
  • The Royal Wizard, Suliman, is a man who’s also from Wales. His real name is Ben Sullivan and he’s definitely not the old woman in the wheelchair that the movie portrays.
  • The woman in the wheelchair is actually a witch named Mrs Pentstemmon who taught Howl magic after he came to Ingary and she doesn’t live at the Palace, though she does have pageboys.
  • Markl’s name in the books is Michael and he’s fifteen, not ten.
  • Sophie has two sisters, not one; they are Lettie and Martha.
  • Sophie’s mother is actually her stepmother, a woman named Fanny, the mother of Martha.
  • Lettie and Martha were both settled into apprenticeships courtesy of Fanny though they switched places a week or two in. Lettie went to learn witchcraft with a lady named Mrs. Fairfax in Upper Folding while Martha went to learn baking at Cesari’s Bakery.
  • Martha is the one that Sophie went to see that day of the Military Parade in the movie, not Lettie however Martha was in disguise as Lettie.
  • Howl is the one that calls Sophie ‘Little Mouse’ and offers to buy her a drink, not the soldiers from the movie.
  • There is no war in Ingary with either of the neighbouring countries though the war is building up.
  • Lastly, Prince Justin isn’t the prince of a neighbouring country but the younger brother of the King of Ingary.

I better stop there, or I’ll ruin all the surprises in HMC. The other two books are just as fun and interesting to read as the first, and though HoMW is the sequel, while CitA is just a companion novel, you definitely want to read CitA second or the timeline just won’t make any sense at all; it’s always irritating when nothing makes sense while you’re reading.

Overall, I would definitely recommend reading the books and then watching the movie because in my honest opinion, these books are way better than their movie adaptation. Anyway, take care, read lots and take in everything books (and sometimes their movie adaptations) have to teach you.

Kyrena x