Query Hack: Critique #19 – YA Fantasy

Dear Query Hack,

UNRAVELED is an 85,000-word young adult fairytale retelling. Take Sleeping Beauty, drop her into a magical system where witches are weavers who use hooks and needles to create spells out of the auras of living things, add a blind weaver who is Aurora’s lady-in-waiting, a sweet romance, and a relatable mother-daughter conflict, and you’ve got UNRAVELED.

  • While I love the spunk in this opening paragraph, it felt a touch distanced from the story (“take this, add this, and you’ve got…”), as it provided world-building information without weaving it into the plot. I recommend simply stating this is a fairytale retelling of Sleeping Beauty with a different POV (not from Aurora’s perspective) and allow the rest of the above information to be discovered in your plot summary. 

Eva has inherited her mother’s ability to weave, but she doesn’t know it. Her mother hoped to suppress her abilities indefinitely, protecting her from a weaver’s life. But when Eva’s best friend nearly dies during a prank gone wrong, Eva’s abilities break through her mother’s barriers and change everything.

  • There’s a lot of great information here, but I think the order of the events/information that’s revealed could be tweaked. Right now, the information is being revealed in a distant way by stating Eva’s magic is being suppressed. Instead, jump right into the story. For example, how does the story start and what is it that drives Eva (what does she want)? Next, what is the prank that allows Eva’s abilities to break through? How does she discover her mother has suppressed her abilities?
  • You’ll also want to tie in setting information. Where does the story take place? Is there magic? If so, how common is magic? Include only the setting and world-building information that’s important to know to understand the central plot. 

No longer able to spend her time shirking responsibility, Eva must learn how to use her dangerous new powers without harming herself or others, and she must do it while blind. Because she didn’t acquire her powers at the typical age (between eight and twelve) Eva missed the “window” for seeing both magical and mundane. Magic fills her vision and blocks out the normal world.

  • I love how Eva’s not acquiring/coming into her powers impacted her, but I’m a touch confused on the how of this one. 
  • In your query, usually you want to address the following: who is your protagonist and what does he/she want (what is driving them at the beginning of the story), inciting incident (the event that changes everything for the character and begins the plot), antagonist (what/who is preventing the protagonist from getting what he/she wants), what does the protagonist do to accommodate for the interference of the antagonist (what happens if he/she succeeds or fails), what is at stake for the character and world at large (ultimate stakes). 

Soon after realizing she is a weaver, Eva is chosen to be Princess Aurora’s lady in waiting. Determined to learn why her mother would risk her sight to keep her from using magic, Eva must avoid falling in love with the prince (he’s engaged to Snow White), figure out what really killed Aurora’s mother, and stop a curse that has the potential to damn the entire kingdom in a never-ending sleep. All with a kind, but incredibly naive princess tagging along.

  • I love that the prince is engaged to Snow White! Fun twist!
  • Eva is falling in love with the prince while working for Aurora and the prince being engaged to Snow White? How interesting! 
  • However, I think the order of events of your query needs to be reordered so it reflects the chronology of the story. 
  • Consider ending your plot summary with the stakes or in such a way that leaves the reader of your query eager to read your story.
  • Don’t forget to include your bio!