Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Genre: YA Fantasy
Every time I read this book, it gets better and better!
Sophie Hatter is the eldest,and therefore expects to live a dreary, boring life. But when the Witch of the Waste comes into her hat shop and puts a curse on her, turning her into an old woman, Sophie gets more adventure than she could ever have dreamed of. Taking refuge in Wizard Howl's moving castle involves her in all his affairs, including a contract with a fire demon and running away from the king, as well as avoiding a curse the Witch of the Waste put on him. But many characters are really involved in all this, and the plot gets more and more tangled as each one shows up.
Knowing how a story ends (after having read the book before, of course!) lets you see a whole lot of things that you may have missed when you first read it. Diana Wynne Jones drops lots of little clues throughout the book that make re-reading it more fantastic than reading it the first time around! Knowing what Sophie doesn't, and some bits of what Howl doesn't, makes certain details that seemed insignificant before just pop off the page.
Besides, the second (or third, or fifth...) time around, you can savor the language more and appreciate little bits of Jones' fascinating style. For example, here's one that caught my eye this time, that I had to re-read a few times: "Or had Howl slithered out so hard that he had come out right behind himself and turned out what most people would call honest?" That sentence is just so amazing - it didn't make sense to me when I first read it, but after re-reading it a few times, I sort of get what it means. But the idea of it - slithering out and coming out behind himself! - is so vivid that it doesn't really matter if I fully grasp what it means.
I'm sure this is not the last time I'll be reading this book. It's the mark of a really good book - that you can re-read it so many times and still want to read it again as soon as you finish it!