Howl’s Moving Castle is hilarious while being deep and complex. It’s truly children’s literature at its best. While I was reading the book, I wondered how I would have reacted to it if I read it when younger. I’m quite certain I would have liked it, but the messages I took from it would have been very different. When I read it this time, fresh off a course on literature from the French enlightenment, I read it through the lens of l’être ou le paraître. These words roughly translate to “essence” and “appearance.” French writers were obsessed with exploring what happened when someone’s appearance did not match his or her being. In Howl’s Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones is preoccupied with the same question. What is true? How we look? Or how we are inside? Although we’re told from birth that it’s “what’s inside that counts,” it’s a profound question, and I was surprised by how deeply Jones investigated this question under the guise of writing a flashy and fun children’s book.The book resembles a fairytale, so I found some character motivations a bit weak. The villain of the novel is purely evil for evil’s sake; unfortunately, there’s not much complexity to her actions. I also became intermittently confused. The novel is frantic and hectic, which makes it difficult to follow occasionally. In spite of these reservations, I enjoyed Howl’s Moving Castle immensely. Delightful characters, an inventive world, a surprising romance, charming humor, and an exploration of profound questions: this book has it all.