I have read Howl's Moving Castle at one time, but other than that I'm not accquainted with Wynne Jones and her writing. (Do have a look at the link there, to a Wynne Jones website. It's rather ugly but they've put up some of the talks she's held for example, and they are both entertaining and interesting!) Inspired by Spufford (I copied out a long list of authors that he mentioned in his book) I've decided to indulge my love for children's/young adults' fiction and read a fair bit of Wynne Jones - a good choice, because the library happen to have several of her books.
Wynne Jones has a great sense of humour and a fair bit of bite in her writing. She doesn't shy away from introducing something really dark, for example children being murdered. There's also a lot of respect for the reader, in that not everything is explained straight away, but instead introduced in bits and pieces to be more fully explained later. Sadly, in this book I did feel a bit too much of the "question-answer" method being used. You know, a one-page lecture from someone explaining things in full and filling in the details for another character who isn't in the know. This gets a bit tedious. I remember Howl's Moving Castle as being a lot tighter, as though it had, basically, been better edited and superfluous bits taken out.
The story is that there are multible universes, more or less aware of magic, and a certain number of magids who can control this magic and use it to influence events. One of these magids has to search for an apprentice, and narrows it down to a list of a few names. To test the candidates he arranges for them all to be at a science-fiction and fantasy convention. Events are more complicated than he anticipated though, and magic starts to get loose, as it were.
Entertaining on the whole, but the good ideas get a bit lost in transport, so to speak. Some bits are a bit dull frankly, but it's okay to skim. I'll definitely be reading a bit more, I enjoyed myself.