SEVEN SOULS Query Critique

OR

A Tale of Locked Doors, Magic Sucking Demons, Witch

Doctors, an Orphan Princess, and Evil Uncle Invidus

Original:

As a non-magical Princess with impossibly protective parents, life inside the castle was all Nel had ever known. The day her Uncle Invidus vanished was the same day her royal parents became paranoid of the potions and peril that dwelled beyond the Western gates. Their greatest fears are realized when Invidus finally does return, bursting with black magic and a jealousy that’s burned within him since birth. After murdering her parents and seizing the throne, timid Nel quickly becomes the dark wizard’s biggest threat.

Desperate for revenge, Nel plots to kill her Uncle. Her plans, however, get thrown for a loop when Invidus unleashes a destructive demon that forces the magic out of every living creature and restores it within him. When Nel realizes how powerful Invidus is becoming, she rushes to track him down.  Guided by her friend Silva, Nel links up with two unlikely heroes–a skilled half-goblin and a vampiric adlet–to help her stop Invidus’ reign of terror. But to destroy the demon Nel must first uncover its tragic origin and she soon discovers the staggering evil that surrounds her own family history. 

Despite her fears, Nel consults an island of witchdoctors who help her piece together the past by awakening Invidus’ deceased victims. Once Nel discovers that she can only destroy the curse through human sacrifice, the young Princess must decide whether to stray from evil or to go against her morals for the sake of her people. 

SEVEN SOULS is my debut fantasy novel, complete at 86k words. I am writing to you because I read on ____ that you are _____. Per your submission guidelines I am ______. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 Here we go, peeps!

As a non-magical Princess with impossibly protective parents, life inside the castle was all Nel had ever known.  How old is Nel? The day Nel’s Uncle Invidus vanished was the same day her royal parents became paranoid of the potions and peril that dwell beyond the castle. Their greatest fears are realized when Invidus finally does return, bursting with black magic and a jealousy that’s burned within him since birth. These sentences are backstory, which muddles the query and plot. You can probably cut them. After murdering her parents and seizing the throne, timid Nel quickly becomes the dark wizard’s biggest threat. This sentence made me think that Nel murdered her parents. 

The paragraph is very unclear. There’s a lot going on—a little bit too much. You should start with a hook introducing Invidus and his coup against Nel’s parents. Nel’s parents becoming paranoid after Invidus’ disappearance and his subsequent return reads like backstory. Maybe try beginning with something that shows Nel’s character and voice, as well as how bad her Uncle truly is. Does she dislike being holed up in the castle? Or is she afraid of the outside world too?

 

Seventeen-year-old Princess Nel hasn’t set foot on grass since she was three—the same year her Uncle Invidus disappeared and her parents locked her away in their castle for safekeeping. But when Invidus returns and uses Black Magic to murder the King and Queen, Nel’s freedom comes at a higher cost than she ever imagined. 

Just an example.

Desperate for revenge, Nel plots to kill her Uncle. Her plans, however, get thrown for a loop when Invidus unleashes a destructive demon that forces the magic out of every living creature and restores it within Invidus. When Nel realizes how powerful her uncle is becoming, she rushes to track him down. This reads like a synopsis, outlining Nel’s actions throughout the novel. Guided by her friend Silva, Nel links up with two unlikely heroes–a skilled half-goblin and a vampiric adlet–to help her stop Invidus’ reign of terror. It seems unnecessary to the plot to mention these characters. But to destroy the demon Nel must first uncover its tragic origin and she soon discovers the staggering evil that surrounds her own family history. Vague. 

Despite her fears, Nel consults an island of witchdoctors who help her piece together the past by awakening Invidus’ deceased victims. Once Nel discovers that she can only destroy the curse through human sacrifice Sort of vague., the young Princess must decide whether to stray from evil or to go against her morals for the sake of her people. Or else what? What are the stakes? I’m sensing the moral stakes (what if I commit these terrible acts to stop the monster and I become a monster in the process?). But I’m a little confused as to what Nel is actually trying to do and why. Is she trying to avenge her parents? Is she trying to stop the demon and save others? Or is she simply trying to save herself? I’d like to see her motives more clearly. 

SEVEN SOULS is my debut No need to tell them it’s your debut. fantasy novel, complete at 86k words. I am writing to you because I read on ____ that you are _____. Per your submission guidelines I am ______. Thank you for your time and consideration. 

The main issues I’m seeing are the muddled plot and the synopsis-like feel of the query. I’d like to see more about the stakes and Nel’s motives. I also would like to see more of Nel’s voice throughout the query. How does she feel about her uncle, her parents, her captivity, etc.? You don’t have to specifically say, “She is sad about her parents’ death.” Small things like verbage and tone can express that. Also, what exactly must she do to defeat the demon. The title makes me think she must sacrifice seven souls.

I look forward to your revisions.

 

Love,

The Query Faerie

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