I bet you thought I’d given up query critiques. Nope. I’m just slow. I’ve also realized I don’t think I’m a fan of doing critiques. But you sent them in so I’ll try to do a few now and again.
I agree that the material in this email can be posted and critiqued on the BookEnds Literary Agency blog. I give permission for it to be archived for the life of the blog.
To Query Queen,
We read that you have an interest in middle grade coming-of-age stories with fantasy elements and a strong female lead. My daughter and I are seeking representation for our middle grade contemporary fantasy novel, THE LAST PRINCESS: Twelve-year-old Cat’s dreams come true when faerie folk crown her their princess. But she must embrace the heartbreak of her Trollish heritage to rescue her kidnapped BFF, and nobody wants a troll for a princess.
Too much! “middle grade coming-of-age stories with fantasy elements and a strong female lead” I’m exhausted and whether you’re trying this or not, it feels like you’re grasping at straws in an attempt to appeal to as many people as possible. What is your book? Short and sweet. Middle Grade Fantasy. Boom. That’s it. The rest should come through in the story (there is no genre for coming-of-age by the way).
I’d dump the lines after the title. I think ending the first paragraph with the genre and title is enough. Move that into the description and go from there. You also make yourself redundant by more or less repeating that in the next paragraph.
Twelve-year-old Cat Brökkenwier is a daydreamer. She sees faerie folk among people the way her friends see animals among the clouds. But life in the suburbs is about as far from her dream of being a princess as you can get. Besides, her mom says there are no such things as faeries and ogres and pixies, and if she doesn’t stop daydreaming instead of doing her work there will be Consequences.
I think you weaken your argument by comparing her sighting of faerie folk to animals in clouds. Not everyone sees animals in clouds. Also, for me, it makes this feel really young. The third sentence seems to come out of nowhere. For me this is a huge red flag. Do you use transitions in your story? It feels a little stream of conscious which isn’t good since I’m not in your conscience. Consequences. It sounds like you’re speaking to a much younger child.
That’s when a mysterious old woman tells Cat the fae were real but they’ve blended in until they look almost human, and Cat can see them because she’s one of them. Oh, and since she has this “fae-dar” she could become the last princess of the fae. Now Cat must earn the crown before a goblin changeling with sinister magic beats her to it. Or worse, before her mother finds out.
With the help of a dwarf clock-maker, a brownie housekeeper, an elfin archery instructor, and many others she meets along the way, Cat learns what it means to be fae. Then Cat discovers the devastating truth: she is descended from trolls, not faeries, and nobody wants a stupid troll for a princess. With her dreams and her world shattered Cat must make a choice: be the troll and rescue her friend from the power-hungry goblin who would be prince, or trade the crown for a spell to make her forget her klutzy, loathsome troll heritage … and everything she’s learned about the fae.
Your query feels overly long. I probably would have stopped reading after the second paragraph. Three paragraphs should be enough, especially since I feel like you have a lot of extra material. Material that doesn’t really tell me anything about the story. And that’s what’s really missing here. We know nothing about the plot. You keep talking about a princess, but I’m not sure where that’s coming from. I think the plot itself needs to be bigger.
Complete at 66,000 words, THE LAST PRINCESS is a stand-alone book with series potential, and will appeal to fans of Emily Windsnap or The Sisters Grimm.
Thank you for your consideration.
Let me add that I’m not looking for middle grade fantasy so I’ll critique the query as best I can, but I’m hoping Moe and Beth pipe in since I think this is more in line with what they’re looking for.
My impression is that the book needs work, not just the query. It feels like you have a nice idea, but it doesn’t strike me as something that’s really all that different. I’m also not sure you have a big enough plot to sustain the novel for 66,000 words.
I’m looking forward to hearing what my readers think.