Welcome to our sixth installment of this series where I feature kick-ass heroines from the fantasy genre. This month I have a slightly different type of heroine for you. Meet Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle. (For the sake of this post, I’ll be referring to the movie, as the movie and book take completely different plot turns.)
Sophie is a hat maker. She’s 18, but has taken over her father’s shop so her younger sister can be free to do what she wants. Sophie is responsible, hard working, and plucky when she has a mind to be. She also has very low self-esteem. In fact, she thinks she’s so ugly, that not even the dreaded wizard Howl would deign to eat her heart.
At this point you might be exchanging wary glances with each other. Sophie is our heroine? This mouse of a girl who lives a boring life while her sister goes out and has all the fun? Well now, the story gets better. Or worse, for Sophie.
The wicked Witch of the Waste comes to visit Sophie’s shop, and in a rare moment of Sophie showing some of that pluck, she shows the sleazy witch the door. Oops, don’t piss off a mean old witch. Sophie is then cursed and transformed into an old woman. Horrified, she quickly leaves town and heads into the wild. It’s a slow journey, as her bones creak and she gets tired easily.
You’re still wondering why I picked her as our monthly heroine? Okay, here’s the deal. Sophie may not be a vampire or demon slaying chick who wields swords or guns, but she’s got brains. She finds the wizard Howl’s castle and makes a pact with the fire demon inside to help break each other’s curses. And when Howl shows up wanting to know who she is, she claims she’s the new cleaning lady.
Even in an old woman’s body, Sophie still battles traps by the Witch of the Waste, evil sorcerers, and encroaching war. But here’s what I think truly makes her a heroine worthy of our feature—sometimes the hardest obstacle to overcome is ourselves. Sophie may not think she has much to offer the world or anyone, but in the end, she doesn’t need to be saved by a dashing hero. She can save herself. And him. 😉