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[[quoteright:202:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Howl_Cover_1.jpg]]

The first book in the ''Wizard's Castle'' series of young adult fantasy novels by Creator/DianaWynneJones, which gleefully [[LampshadeHanging lampshades]] and [[AffectionateParody parodies]] many tropes common to the FairyTale genre.

Sophie Hatter is a sensible young woman who utterly lacks any confidence in herself. She works in a hat store owned by her late father, where she feels resigned to spend the rest of her days, until one day an encounter with the dashing and handsome young wizard Howl marks her as a target of the Witch of the Waste, a jilted former lover of Howl's. Mistaking Sophie for her sister Lettie, The Witch places a curse on Sophie which turns her into an old woman. After this transformation, Sophie exiles herself from her hometown and happens to become a house cleaner for Howl - who lives inside a moving castle with [[{{PortalNetwork}} magic doors]] leading all over the country. The castle is powered by the grumpy fire demon, Calcifer, who is linked to Howl in a mysterious magical contract. Calcifer, however, has grown to resent Howl over the years and agrees to free Sophie from her curse if she can, in turn, somehow void his own agreement with Howl.

As Sophie and Howl grow closer, it becomes more and more apparent that all is not as it seems. Indeed, the main theme of the book is that everything in the story is something else, having been transformed by magic.

The book was adapted into [[Anime/HowlsMovingCastle an anime film]] by Creator/HayaoMiyazaki.

The book kicked off a series. The first sequel, ''Literature/CastleInTheAir'' (not to be confused with Miyazaki's other film, ''Laputa: CastleInTheSky''), continues the story from the point of view of a new character, in the midst of a war, wherein most of the characters he runs across are characters from the first book, only (a) disguised or otherwise not what they once were and/or (b) described in such a way as to make the reader unaware of the connection (seeing as the sequel's hero doesn't know any of them, he can't very well recognize them for us, either). It uses tropes and settings from the Literature/{{Arabian Nights}}.

The second sequel, titled ''Literature/HouseOfManyWays'', is set a couple of years after its predecessor. Again, a new protagonist is introduced as the book follows the story of Charmain, a sheltered bookworm who is assigned to caretake a cottage for her Great Uncle (who is also the Royal Wizard) but soon discovers the cottage is a magical labyrinth in disguise. The cast of the first book are given more involved roles than their cameo appearances in ''Castle in the Air'', but still stay secondary to Charmain's plot.
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!!The series as a whole provides examples of:
* AgentPeacock: Girly boy badass Howl is this.
* AwLookTheyReallyDoLoveEachOther:
** Howl and Sophie bicker and argue like there's no tomorrow but when it really comes down to it, they really do love each other. The reason why they argue so much is because ''they want to''. It keeps them on their toes.
** Michael pointed out to Sophie the day that Howl, as vain and obsessed with beauty that he was, forgets to take 2 hours every morning to dress up and make himself look handsome would be the day that he's truly in love. So when Sophie was kidnapped by the Witch of the Waste, Howl arrives to her castle, disheveled and ungroomed.
* BaseOnWheels: [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin The titular castle]].
* BetaCouple:
** In the first book we have Michael and Martha (as well as Lettie and Ben at the end), to the main couple Howl and Sophie.
** In the second book it's main couple Abdullah and Flower in the Night, with BetaCouple place going to [[spoiler:Justin and Beatrice]], with some of the couples from the original also making appearances.
** In the third book we have OddCouple Peter and Charmain and some glimpses of Howl and Sophie.
* {{Bizarrchitecture}}: The castle has doors that lead to other places and rooms that change size.
* BrainyBrunette: Lettie. Reading between the lines a bit shows that Howl is one as well; Calcifer mentions that his hair is naturally 'mud-coloured', and a throw-away line to Miss Angorian implies that he has some sort of doctorate.
* CompanionCube: Sophie discovers she has the magical ability to bring things to life if she treats them like Companion Cubes.
* TheDandy: Howl spends two hours every morning to look fashionable. He says it's for business but everyone knows he's vain.
* DeathIsSuchAnOddThing: A mild version shows up when Sophie reacts to [[spoiler:Mrs. Pentstemmon's murder]] by first being shocked that the passing was so sudden, and then realizing that "that's how it was, wasn't it? People are alive right up until they die."
* FantasyCounterpartCulture: Ingary is roughly equivalent to England. Rajpuht, in ''Castle in the Air'' is somewhere between Arabian, Persian, and Indian. High Norland, in which ''House of Many Ways'' is set, is quite Switzerland-like--with the rolling, snowy mountains and meadows, the cuckoo clocks/sleds, tiny impish creatures, and all.
* FieryRedhead: Sophie, after character development lets her gain several levels in self-confidence.
* GentlemanSnarker: As in everything else, Howl has to be classy even when he's being condescending.
* GentlemanWizard: Howl is an eccentric magic scholar who lives in a floating castle he made himself and ''always'' looks appropriate for polite society.
* HappilyMarried: Sophie and Howl, in every book after the first. They [[LikeAnOldMarriedCouple bicker constantly,]] which leads most onlookers to wonder [[WhatDoesSheSeeInHim what they see in each other]]. However, they ''love'' to argue, since it keeps them both on their toes, and it's great fun, of course.
* HeroesWantRedheads: Sophie, in her natural age and form, has flowing red hair.
* TheIllegible: Howl. In both ''Howl's Moving Castle'' and ''House of Many Ways'' there are references to his handwriting being horrible - both Sophie and Charmain wonder to themselves if he uses a pen or a poker when he's writing.
* LargeHam: Howl is called a 'drama queen' by his own author.
* MamaBear: Sophie in ''Castle in the Air'' and ''House of Many Ways.'' Do NOT harm Morgan Jenkins if you know what's good for you.
* MoralityPet: From a distance, Howl is a wicked wizard that eats people's hearts. When you get to know him he's a hammy and selfish fop but then you see him with ''children''. Whatever other flaws he may have, he absolutely loves his sister's children and they in kind. In the sequels, this extends to his own son Morgan, suggesting Howl may have a FriendToAllChildren streak.
* NoAccountingForTaste: This is generally how outsiders view Howl and Sophie's relationship in every book after the first. In reality, they're [[spoiler: HappilyMarried, since they ''enjoy'' fighting with each other. It keeps them both on their toes]].
* NobleDemon: Calcifer is a demon who looks very scary and lives by eating parts of humans but he has a good relationship with the rest of the Castle 'family'.
* OppositesAttract: Sensible woman lacking in confidence and eccentric man with an excess of confidence.
* PapaWolf: Howl also has a moment in ''House of Many Ways'' when [[spoiler: Prince Ludovic]] threatens Morgan, leading Howl to punch him in the face. Twice. He's also an Uncle Wolf to his sister's kids, as the Witch discovers.
* PortalDoor: There is a door in the castle that Howl enchanted to lead to different places ([[spoiler: and times]]) depending on the color its dial points toward.
* PutOnABus: Michael, in every book after the first. ''Castle In the Air'' explains that [[spoiler: Michael, and a new unnamed apprentice, were sent away when Howl found out that the moving castle was in danger.]]
* RedheadedHero: Sophie, when she's not cursed into looking like an old woman [[spoiler: or in disguise as a cat]].
* RuleOfCool: Let's face it - moving castles are cool. It's justified in the first book as a means of eluding the Witch, but Sophie and Howl still have the moving castle at the very end of the third book.
* StandardHeroReward: Spoofed. Princess Valeria of Ingary is still a small child, and her father wouldn't dream of marrying her off until she's much older -- which proves embarrassing for several people over the course of the series who expect the Standard Reward without bothering to find out how old she is first.
* TechnicolorFire: Calcifer, as demonstrated in the above cover.
* TheoryOfNarrativeCausality: Mentioned repeatedly, such as HappilyEverAfter at the end of the story or the thing about three daughters.
* WhatBeautifulEyes: In all three books, people meeting Howl for the first time comment on his strange "glass-marble" eyes.

!!''Howl's Moving Castle'' provides examples of:
* BeautifulAllAlong: Sophie never saw herself as pretty because her sisters were so much prettier. It takes a curse and the building up of her confidence to make her see that she is.
* BlondeBrunetteRedhead: The Hatter sisters - Sophie (redhead), Lettie (brunette), and Martha (blonde).
* ButForMeItWasTuesday: Subverted. Sophie thinks she can just walk by the Witch of the Waste because the witch has probably cursed so many people that she won't even remember Sophie. It doesn't work.
* CantLiveWithoutYou: If Calcifer dies, so does Howl [[spoiler: because of their contract.]]
* ChekhovsGun: [[spoiler: Every object, character and throwaway line of dialogue, in the first book at least.]]
* CursedWithAwesome: subverted- Sophie's curse is genuinely terrible but it is only as an old woman that she is finally able to feel confident in herself.
* DealWithTheDevil: Wizards and witches can make these with fire demons to gain greater power. [[spoiler: The exchange involves the human's heart and therefore their continued existence.]]
* EveryoneJoinTheParty: Sort of happens in the book, when an amazing number of secondary characters independently show up right before the climax; subverted in that they don't know they're ''supposed'' to be reinforcements ([[spoiler:really - that was Howl's plan]]) and so are bewilderedly commentating on the fight and swapping stories rather than really helping - afterward, this continues and serves as an {{Infodump}} about what's really been going on for the entire book.
* EvilPlan: The Witch of the Waste wants to claim Howl's heart, metaphorically. This is why she chases him and curses a rival (Sophie) into old age. [[spoiler: The demon contracted to her, Miss Angorian, wants to claim his heart, literally. This is why she arranges a series of events that will allow her to get inside the castle and grab Calicifer.]]
* FirstGirlWins: Gender-flipped with Sophie and Howl, Howl being the first guy that Sophie meets. Howl on the other hand has met plenty of other girls before Sophie.
* FreakyFridayFlip: Martha and Lettie [[spoiler: switch identities because they preferred the life their mother gave the other.]]
* GenreSavvy: Subverted. The book opens with a description of how the protagonist, who lives in "the land of Ingary, where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist", knows what to expect from life because everyone in Ingary knows how fairy stories work. The first dent appears before the end of the first chapter, with the introduction of two not-at-all ugly step-sisters, and as the book progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that a lot of what everyone knows is superstition or self-fulfilling prophecy (people make plans according to what everyone knows will happen, so that's what does happen). A major theme of the book is that life isn't as simple as in stories, even in a kingdom where fairy-story magic really exists.
* HandsomeLech: [[spoiler: Howl falls for Sophie the first time he sees her but he maintains the appearance of being a HandsomeLech while trying to find out more about Sophie from her sister.]]
* InWhichATropeIsDescribed: All the chapter titles, with a slight variation in the case of Chapter 5, "Which is far too full of washing".
* LadykillerInLove: Howl is well known as a womanizer before, during, and after meeting Sophie. [[spoiler:Enforced, since the witch's curse will allow her to claim his heart if he stops.]]
* LiteralChangeOfHeart: Howl's character improves a little bit as a result [[spoiler: of having his heart returned to him]].
* MenCantKeepHouse: Before Sophie, Howl's castle was amazingly dirty. Justified as Howl ''liked'' it dirty (the spiders are so helpful!) and was upset when Sophie cleaned it.
* MyHairCameOutGreen: Howl's blonde hair goes pink when Sophie messes with his hair products.
* NiceHat: Given Sophie's job, it's only natural a few would show up. [[spoiler: Because of her latent magical ability, they turn into {{Magic Hat}}s.]]
* OneDegreeOfSeparation: In the book, Sophie eventually learns that ''every single'' encounter she's had after the first few pages and ''everything'' that's happened to her [[spoiler: has been directly caused by Howl's actions. This only reason this isn't [[TheChessmaster Chessmastering]] is that while Howl had the prerequisite knowledge, he's been]] [[IndyPloy winging it]] instead.
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: The King of Ingary. We see little of him but he seems like a decent fellow. For intance he's not adverse to giving a StandardHeroReward for a sufficent job but not as long as his daughter is a toddler.
* RomanticFalseLead: In the book, Miss Angorian arouses Sophie's jealousy when Howl becomes attracted to her.
* ScaryScarecrows: Played with; Sophie finds the animate scarecrow frightening, but when it gets a chance to explain itself without her running away, it turns out to be friendly and helpful.
* SecretSecretKeeper: By the end of the book, pretty much everyone knows Sophie is cursed, despite the secrecy clause.
* ShapeShifterShowdown: When the Witch of the Waste finds Howl in Porthaven.
* ShoutOut:
** The first book has lots of them to ''Literature/TheWonderfulWizardOfOz''.
*** The main antagonist is the Witch of the ''Waste'',
*** On her journey to the wizard's castle Sophie meets a scarecrow and a dog, and Howl himself is a wizard who deliberately cultivates an image of being a lot more terrible and powerful than he really is, [[spoiler:was born in our world, and - referencing a different character entirely - is literally heartless]].
** Howl says [[Literature/AliceInWonderland "We can't all be Mad Hatters"]] when teasing Sophie.
** When holding up a human skull Howl says [[{{Theatre/Hamlet}} "Alas, poor Yorick!"]].
** Also, Howl's sister's house in Wales is named [[Literature/TheLordOfTheRings "Rivendell"]].
* ShroudedInMyth: Many are the mysterious and frightening rumours that circulate about the Wizard Howl. It turns out that he started most of them himself.
* SheCleansUpNicely: Sophie is in denial of this until the end.
* ThreatBackfire
-->'''Witch of the Waste''': "...she told me 'over my dead body'. So I took her at her word."
* TiredOfRunning: [[spoiler: At the climax Howl stops avoiding the Witch of the Waste and instead goes to her lair to confronts her and rescue Sophie.]]
* TongueTied: Part of the curse on Sophie is that she is prevented from telling anyone that's she under the curse.
* TrashOfTheTitans: Howl's castle had rotten, dirty dishes, spiders and cobwebs, and other filth because no one cleaned.
* VainSorceress: Howl is a male example. He flips out after Sophie does something to his hair products and causes his roots to go natural. Also, Michael tells Sophie the day that Howl doesn't spend two hours in the bathroom to make himself beautiful for a girl is the day that he is truly in love.
* WorkingThroughTheCold: Howl has to cast a difficult spell, go to a funeral in disguise, and fight the evil Witch of the Waste, all while he has a bad cold.
* WrongGenreSavvy: The root of Sophie's major problems is that she thinks she is genre savvy enough to know that being the eldest of three children she will be doomed to a boring life without glamour or success. As such she completely fails to see that she is an extremely potent witch with the ability to ensure a happy ending for herself as well as everyone around her.
* YoungestChildWins: Lampshaded and averted; Sophie (the eldest) believes this is the case but all three of them live HappilyEverAfter.
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