The escapism that fantasy books offer is like no other genre. Great fantasy books find a way to present a world that you are unfamiliar with and make it relatable. One such book is Howl’s Moving Castle, and it stands on its own.
While Howl’s Moving Castle is unique, it makes use of fantasy tropes and storytelling interestingly. You can find traces of countless fantasy classics in the book, but with a unique spin. This book is the gateway fantasy novel for many readers.
Luckily, there are many fantasy books like Howl’s Moving Castle that scratch the same itch. From KiKi’s Delivery Service to The House In The Cerulean Sea, there are many great options. Follow along as we highlight the 20 best fantasy books like Howl’s Moving Castle.
KiKi’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono
Much like Howl’s Moving Castle, the 1985 novel KiKi’s Delivery Service was also turned into a Studio Ghibli film. It’s easy to tell why the same studio that adapted Howl’s Moving Castle set its eyes on Kiki’s Delivery Service which shares similar themes.
The story follows a 13-year-old witch whose life suddenly changes when she has to live a year without contact with other witches. Her adventures with her cat Jiji are just as whimsical as they are poignant.
KiKi’s journey and growth are comparable to Sophie’s storyline in Howl’s Moving Castle on a thematic level. Luckily, you can easily find this book online as it has stayed in print for over 30 years.
The Hero’s Guide To Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy
Check out The Hero’s Guide To Saving Your Kingdom if you like fantasy that defies the conventions of the genre. This book has fun playing with classic fantasy characters and plot devices, such as “Prince Charming”.
Christopher Healy gives a name and face to the classic heroic princes of timeless fantasies.
While it deals with more mature themes than Snow White or Sleeping Beauty, this book addresses them with a sense of humor.
Many black-and-white illustrations help bring the story to life. This book is a worthy read and offers the best of everything from adventures with trolls and witches to laugh-out-loud slapstick gags.
The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
Few books combine adventure with humor like Howl’s Moving Castle as The Last Dragonslayer. This book is available online and is worth checking out if you want to read something as thrilling as it is funny. The Last Dragonslayer puts readers in the mind of Jennifer Strange as she experiences an important vision.
This story follows Jennifer, the Quarkbeast, and Tiger Prawns on their hilarious and touching journey. Read the book to find out if they can protect the last dragon from the mysterious Dragonslayer
It is also the first of a trilogy which is worth reading if you enjoy this installment. This book is appropriate for audiences over 10 years old, but it is thrilling for teens and adults alike.
The House In The Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
Fantasy books are known for their imaginative concepts, but few are as creative as The House In The Cerulean Sea. T.J. Klune does a masterful job of crafting a fantastical world centered around the charming protagonist Linus.
Linus works for an agency that places orphaned children with magical abilities. He receives an unusual assignment that takes him on a journey to a strange location with colorful characters. Part of the joy of this book is unwrapping the mystery surrounding interesting characters like Arthur Parnassus.
It is a lengthy read at 400 pages, but the story is so riveting that it never gets boring.
Tuesdays At The Castle by Jessica Day George
The location of Tuesdays At The Castle isn’t all that it has in common with Howl’s Moving Castle. Both stories feature protagonists that experience growth and changes in perspective over the course of the journey.
The ever-changing scenery of the caste itself is enough to captivate readers. Celie’s frustrations and desire for change are relatable and help anchor this fantasy to reality. Castle Glower is an unforgettable location that you won’t soon forget.
You can find Tuesdays At The Castle online here, and it’s worth the quick read. There are four sequels to this book that are each thoughtful and imaginative.
The One And Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Many of the best fantasy books put creatures and even animals at the forefront. The One And Only Ivan is one such book, and it follows a gorilla, a dog, and an elephant. With that said, the animal protagonists of this book are just as relatable as the humans in Howl’s Moving Castle.
The titular character Ivan is a silverback gorilla who has a basis in reality. Loosely inspired by real events, this book puts a fantastical spin on universally relatable themes.
While it can be sad and challenging at times, its theme of hope is inspirational. This is the first book in a trilogy, and it’s a great introduction to the fictional universe. Buy it online if you want to dive into this rich and relatable world.
Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
Few books manage to spin the fantasy tropes that we are all accustomed to in a fresh way. However, authors like Patricia C. Wredge make it look easy with books like Dealing With Dragons.
Cimorene is a relatable protagonist with understandable motivations. It’s easy to understand why she wants to break away from her family. However, the real thrill of this book comes from what happens next when she becomes a dragon’s princess.
The rest of the series is just as great, but you should pick up the first book to begin.
The Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones
The moment that Christopher Chant finds out that he is an enchanter, his life changes forever. That, combined with the fact that he has 9 lives changes his entire outlook on life. The Lives of Christopher Chant is the type of fantasy story where a single day can change a character’s life.
Fantasy works best when the protagonist is relatable, and that is where this book excels. Written by the same author as Howl’s Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones puts just as much love and care into this story.
Christopher’s ability to visit other worlds in his sleep is something every reader will enjoy.
How Do You Live? by Yoshino Genzaburo
Some classic books, such as How Do You Live, take a long time to catch. While this book came out in 1937, it has become much more popular in recent years. However, the book’s timeless handling of everything from bullying to growing up makes this novel evergreen.
This is yet another book that caught the eye of Studio Ghibli. Any reader can see part of themself in the protagonist Junichi. His uncle is just as compelling as a secondary protagonist, and each perspective contributes to the narrative.
The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
While this book follows the titular unicorn, its themes are relatable to the readers. The Last Unicorn follows a mythical creature on a journey to discover what has become of the rest of her kind.
This book has mature themes that are wrapped up in a fantastical and heart-warming universe. The fun nature of the adventure makes some of the deeper themes of isolation and self-discovery more palatable.
You can find this book online and in stores, and it’s worth the 320-page journey.
The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe may be a blockbuster fantasy book, but its themes are grounded. Much like Howl’s Moving Castle, this book deals with destiny, transformation, and courage in ways that few fantasy books have dared to.
C.S. Lewis does an incredible job of building a fantastical world worth exploring. The relatable protagonists make it easy for readers to identify with and root for the characters. Mythical characters like Faun rival the fantastical characters in Howl’s Moving Castle such as Calcifer.
A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle
As the title suggests, A Wrinkle In Time centers around a wild journey through time. Relatable characters like Charles and Meg anchor this imaginative story in reality. Their adventures have high stakes that make this read both riveting and stressful at times.
Charles and Meg’s journey to save their father is full of twists and turns that you won’t see coming. The fun locations at the heart of this novel are what ultimately makes it so memorable. Pick it up online before you watch the film adaptation.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
J.R.R. Tolkien is thought by many to be the godfather of fantasy fiction. Look no further than The Hobbit to see why his world-building and storytelling have captivated millions. Nearly every fantasy novel or film that has come since has taken cues from The Hobbit.
The hero, Bilbo, is similar to Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle in that they both live normal lives until things take a turn in fantastical ways. Bilbo is thrust into a wild world of fantasy that he isn’t accustomed to when he embarks on an eye-opening journey. It’s a great introduction to The Lord of The Rings.
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
One of the highlights of Howl’s Moving Castle is its surreal nature. Check out James And The Giant Peach if you want to see just how surrealistic fantasy books can get.
A young orphan embarks on a magical journey when he enters, well, a giant peach. The majority of the secondary characters in this book are magical bugs. While that may sound wild, each of these magical side characters has relatable human traits. You can find this book online and in stores to this day.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone launched a global phenomenon. However, this first installment is more restrained than the later sequels. Harry is as likable and relatable as Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle, and his journey is just as thrilling.
Few fantasy books are as universally loved by non-fantasy readers as this novel. It’s worth picking up this book even if you’ve seen the movie because it does a better job of world-building.
The Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O’Shea
The Hounds of the Morrigan is an example of how fantasy books tell stories about basic human nature in fresh ways. Our protagonist, Pidge, finds his life completely changed when he inadvertently ignites a battle between good and evil.
Influenced by Celtic mythology, the cast of characters and creatures in this novel are quite unique. Sadly, the sequel never came to fruition, but you should pick this book up online and enjoy the fun and at times scary world.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl’s undisputed masterpiece is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This timeless story about a young boy named Charlie Bucket has been a classic since its 1964 release.
While it has been adapted twice for the big screen, the book tells the outlandish story in the best way. Few fantasy books manage to mix reality with the fantastical as well as this novel. Whether it be Willy Wonka or the Oompa Loompas, there are relatable traits in each unique character.
Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman
The first in a trilogy, Northern Lights takes place in a fantasy world unlike any other. Witches, ice bears, and even angels occupy this immersive universe. You can find it here online, and you will likely want to read the rest of the series.
Lyra and Pan are lovable characters with unique relationships. Delving further into their relationship and why Pan is so unique may spoil some of the charm of this book, however. Part of the fun of this book and trilogy is that there are several creatures, clans, and factions with distinct motivations.
The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
The Princess and the Goblin is yet another fun fantasy book that features a castle setting. Even though it dates back to 1872, its plot and themes are still relatable. Irene is a cunning and lovable protagonist dealing with the relatable struggles of loneliness and identity.
The goblins themselves are fascinating and thought-provoking. This book features universal themes that are just as enjoyable for children and teens as adults. You can find as much depth in this book as the strange caverns beneath the castle.
The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy
Some of the best fantasy books are those written by an author with a unique perspective. For example, Jill Murphy was 15 years old when she wrote The Worst Witch. That is reflected in the authentic voice of the protagonist Mildred.
The story follows Milfred’s awkward journey through a witch academy. In many ways, The Worst Witch serves as a precursor to the Harry Potter series. This book has been in stock in stores and online with many prints since 1974.
Whether it be KiKi’s Delivery Service or Dealing With Dragons, there are many incredible fantasy books like Howl’s Moving Castle. This list should help point you in the right direction so you can find a new fantasy book to binge-read. Each of these books features relatable characters and imaginative fantasy worlds.
What is the message of Howl’s Moving Castle?
Acceptance and love are the key messages of Howl’s Moving Castle. It also carries themes of individuality and learning to be comfortable in one’s skin.
What age group is Howl’s Moving Castle book for?
Howl’s Moving Castle is intended for middle school children and beyond. Its young adult themes resonate with young and older audiences.
Are fantasy books hard to read?
Fantasy books aren’t generally hard to read, but they can be dense. There are often many characters, factions, and even creatures in fantasy books. However, great fantasy books like The Fellowship of the Ring make it easy to comprehend the world.
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