Castle in the Air

Castle in the Air
Cover image to Castle in the Air

While many people have at least heard of Howl’s Moving Castle because of the film adaptation, the sequels seem to fly under the radar. Which is a shame since they seem to be just as good. I say sequel, but that’s not entirely accurate. Like The Chronicles of Narnia, these books occur in the same world as Howl’s Moving Castle while focusing a different set of characters with previously established characters occasionally popping up to contribute in ways only they could.

Overview

Abdullah is a simple carpet merchant who often daydreams about a more adventurous life. However, when an unusual stranger sells him a magic flying carpet, those daydreams begin to come true, but not in the way Abdullah wanted.

Another Love Letter of a Different Flavor

If Howl’s Moving Castle was a love letter to fairy tales, then Castle in the Air is another letter to a different kind of fairy tale. Specifically, it pays homage to Arabian stories similar Aladdin or The Forty Thieves. Containing things like flying carpets and djinn, Castle in the Air still gives the feeling of a fairy tale, but the flavor is different. I think this shows Diana Jones’s skill since she can

No Minor Characters

After reading two of her books, I have to conclude that Dianne Wynne Jones is completely incapable of having a minor character in her stories. And I absolutely love it about her writing. If a character is encountered for even a brief amount of time, they will at the very least contribute to the plot in some way or another. A more common occurrence, however, is that they are later revealed to be much more important than initially portrayed. A character that is simply bumped into on the street can later become one of the most important characters in the series. Having spotted this pattern, I find myself paying much more attention to every character and every interaction hoping to spot what the next major development is going to be. Despite this consideration, I still get surprised by some of the twists these “minor” characters bring me, and I absolutely love it.

More Flawed Characters

Consistent with a theme from the previous book, all of the characters from Castle in the Air are flawed and imperfect. These imperfections are by no means small. Abdullah himself is a liar to an almost pathological degree. His love interest, Flower-in-the-Night, was sheltered to the point of extreme naiveté. These flaws also shape some of the more impactful moments of the book when the characters overcome them. One of the more tender moments is when Abdullah needs to confess to having lied about something. Furthermore, these flaws are not solid defining characteristics. While Flower-in-the-Night is naïve, she is by no means unintelligent. In fact, she is one of the more intelligent characters in the book. Through no fault of her own, she simply led a very sheltered life.

Final Thoughts

Like the previous book in the series, I do recommend this book to anyone that is interested. I wish I could go into more detail about what makes this make clever and a good read, but I’m trying to avoid spoiling both it and Howl’s Moving Castle. Despite this hindrance, I will encourage anyone to at least pick it up and give it a try.

 

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