Publisher: HarperCollins, 1990
Book Blurb: In which a humble young carpet merchant wins, then loses, the princess of his dreams.
Far to the south of the land of Ingary, in the Sultanates of Rashpuht, there lived in the city of Zanzib a young and not very prosperous carpet dealer named Abdullah who loved to spend his time daydreaming. He was content with his life and his daydreams until, one day, a stranger sold him a magic carpet.
That very night, the carpet flew him to an enchanted garden. There, he met and fell in love with the beauteous princess Flower-in-the-Night, only to have her snatched away, right under his very nose, by a wicked djinn. With only his magic carpet and his wits to help him, Abdullah sets off to rescue his princess.
My Opinion: At first glance, this doesn’t seem like much of a sequel to Howl’s Moving Castle. And in some ways it isn’t. It follows Abdullah’s story almost exclusively. Howl and company make an appearance, though not in a way you would expect.
I really liked Castle in the Air. Diana Wynne Jones continues to weave exceptional story and landscape, and I was completely drawn in.
Abdullah is a likeable protagonist, though I was so aggravated at times that everything seemed to be working against him. I mean, there are obstacles and then there are the stories where absolutely nothing seems to go right. This was the latter. There is only so much of that a reader can take. I also found Abdullah’s way of speaking to be very obnoxious at times. The flowery speech was great at first… but then it really got old fast.
The other thing that took away from the enjoyment for me was that in true YA style, after only one meeting, Abdullah is proclaiming his true and undying love for Flower-in-the-Night. Can we please break this mold already? Romance is great. But it takes time to grow and become real. By proclaiming love after one day, it cheapens real love and gives young women unreal expectations.
Flower-in-the-Night had some moments where I really loved the way Diana Wynne Jones wrote her. She calls Abdullah on the double standard that men can have multiple wives, but women can’t have multiple husbands. I wanted to stand up and cheer.
Castle in the Air has the same narrative style that Howl’s Moving Castle did, though by now I was used to it. As with the first book in the series, it is a small book, but not a small story. The big climactic moment lacked something for me, though it was still nice to see how everything tied up. And everything did tie up nicely, making me very intrigued to see where the third volume in the series takes us.
Bottom Line: I liked that this wasn’t a direct sequel, but that it takes time to check in with Howl and company. Some flaws, but flawless books are hard to find. I will most definitely finish off the series.
(Cover image and book blurb courtesy of Goodreads)