Title: Castle in the Air (Book 2 of Howl’s Castle)
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Publisher: Greenwillow – HarperCollins
Release Date: 1990
Young merchant Abdullah leads a humble life. Or he did until a stranger sold him a threadbare – and disagreeable – magic carpet. Now Abdullah is caught in the middle of his grand daydreams. Waking one night in a luxurious garden, he meets and falls instantly in love with the beautiful and clever Flower-in-the-Night. But a wicked djinn sweeps the princess away right before Abdullah’s eyes, leaving the young man no choice but to follow. This is no ordinary quest, however, for Flower-in-the-Night isn’t all the djinn has stolen. Abdullah will have the so-called help of the cantankerous carpet, a cranky genie in a bottle, a dishonest soldier, and a very opinionated black cat. Will this motley crew be able to find the djinn’s mysterious dwelling and rescue a castle full of princessess?
I loved this book just as much as the first. I don’t like this set of covers – the other set is more colorful and seems friendlier. But the story is great. There are new characters, new plots, new lands, but at the same time we revisit old characters and fall in love with them all over again.
Abdullah is an amazing protagonist. The troubles he goes through for his true love were deep, but he persevered and went through numerous adventures and dangers for her. (Yes, I heard how corny that sounded, but keep in mind that it’s just my rephrasing of the story). I loved the characters who hinder him, the characters that help him, and the characters who simply confuse him. The mystery of where Flower-in-the-Night was taken was almost interactive in the way it was written – I was constantly trying to figure out where they would go or what would happen next. And the surprises mixed into the plot were never-ending. I never would have guessed where some of the characters came from, where some of Abdullah’s ideas sprouted up from; pretty much anything that happened in the book was completely out of the blue, but yet relatable to the book so everything tied together at one point or another.
The old characters and how they related to this installment were small comparatively, but I still saw enough of them that I was satisfied. It was interesting to see Howl and Sophie as a husband and wife, and even more intriguing to see how Lettie was getting on with Suliman, Prince Justin’s tale (that man is always in a predicament or another) and even just the state of the country of Ingary itself, since Abdullah’s story starts in the Sultanates of Rashpuht. And then new characters, such as Flower-in-the-Night, were bold, courageous, intelligent, and plain downright stubborn, creating a mix of humor and adventure that I couldn’t put the book down, whether from suspense or laughter.
It was a great book, and I can’t wait to read the next, and I believe (unfortunately) last book, House of Many Ways.