Author Topic: Adult Fantasy query review  (Read 215 times)

Offline Sjgallion

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Adult Fantasy query review
« on: September 24, 2022, 03:18:44 PM »
Dear [AGENT]:

My dark, adult contemporary fantasy, OUT OF THE DARK, checks a few boxes on your MSWL: trauma and healing, speculative horror such as that seen in The Babadook, grumpy-but-loyal characters, and a realistic magic system with deadly consequences. Complete at 88,000 words, this novel is a blend of women’s fiction, horror and fantasy with a single split timeline, mother and daughters' points of view, and good girls going absolutely savage on their shadowy, sharp-toothed adversary.

Eighty years ago, the hidden Fae Realm suddenly went dark. All magic drained away and the land was easily invaded by the cruel, fear-eating Grim Army. Willow, a fae prisoner, has helped countless escape into the raw and deadly terrain of the Human realm. Now, it’s her turn to make the treacherous journey to escape the evil Grim General and her hungry army. She expected a fight, to possibly die trying to escape. She never expected a five-year-old human girl to help her, never expected to fall in love with the girl's father, to forge a family with them in the enchanting and rural Texas hill country.

Willow can’t outrun her homeland’s curse forever, though, and the Grim General hunts her down and drags her away from her new family, back to the dark prison, the constant terror, the fear-eating monsters. Hope comes in the form of her daughters: one struggling to cope with crushing distrust and the other victim to an inherited and destructive power she struggles to control. They are joined by two cocky fae shifters, allies of their mother. In a race against the Grim Army, this family will have to heal each other if they’re to break the curse and escape the dark and deadly realm together.

This novel should appeal to fans of A COURT OF MIST AND FURY, THE BROKEN EARTH TRILOGY,  and THE BOOK EATERS.

I am a married mother of two, a lab supervisor at a cancer clinic, and a new author.

Thank you for all you do,

[MY INFO]

Offline MichelleG

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Re: Adult Fantasy query review
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2022, 03:57:33 PM »
Please forgive me if I have read/gotten this query wrong...

My dark, adult contemporary fantasy, OUT OF THE DARK, ...  sharp-toothed adversary. If you really see the need to say all of this I suggest you put it at the end of the query instead of the beginning.

Eighty years ago, the hidden Fae Realm suddenly went dark.  If they were hidden, from whom and how did they go dark?

She never expected a five-year-old human girl to help her, never expected to fall in love with the girl's father, to forge a family with them in the enchanting and rural Texas hill country. For the purpose of the query, what does this have to do with anything?  She starts out in a place she wants to escape and then she ends up in the place she wants to escape. Does the agent really need to know she has a failed escape attempt?  And the father and the five-year-old don't appear to be involved in her being dragged back and trying to escape again.

Hope comes in the form of her daughters: one struggling to cope with crushing distrust and the other victim to an inherited and destructive power she struggles to control. Had to reread this to get that these are the general's daughters (?) - if so say the general's daughters. 

They are joined by two cocky fae shifters, allies of their mother. I may be way off here, but do you mean these two cocky fae shifters are allies with the two daughter's mother - the general's daughter?  If so, why would the general's allies help?
« Last Edit: September 24, 2022, 04:02:45 PM by MichelleG »
"You look at these scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of isolation and the impunity with which crime may be committed there." - Sherlock Homes, The Copper Beeches - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Offline Sjgallion

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Re: Adult Fantasy query review
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2022, 07:19:01 AM »
Lol yeah MichelleG, it was clear to me that the query must not have been clear enough because you didn't get much of it right. That was helpful, though. If it's not clear to you, then it's not going to be clear to an agent who only gives it about 8 seconds. I've posted a rework of it, but here it is.

Dear [agent]:


“Keep a light on and never stop fighting.” That's what Willow must teach her daughters in order to protect them from the insidious, shadowy, fear-eating soldiers before that dark army comes to take her back.

Complete at 88,000 words, OUT OF THE DARK is a blend of women’s fiction, horror and contemporary fantasy. This novel checks a few boxes on your MSWL: speculative horror, complex characters, imaginative settings, and a touch of magic.

For eighty years, the Fae Realm has been dark and magicless, victim to a curse and the depraved Grim Army. Willow, a fae prisoner, finally escapes and finds refuge with a father and his young daughter in the rural Texas hill country. Willow grows to love and trust the pair as they help her to heal, eventually deciding to stay with them, to forge a new family.

Willow can’t outrun her homeland’s curse forever, though. The Grim General hunts her down and drags her away from her new family, back to the dark prison, the constant terror, the fear-eating monsters. Hope comes in the form of Willow’s daughters: one struggling to cope with crushing distrust and the other victim to an inherited and destructive power she struggles to control. They are joined by two cocky fae shifters, Willow’s long-time allies. In a race against the Grim Army, this family will have to fight fear with fire if they’re to break the curse and stitch their family back together.

This novel should appeal to fans of Holly Black, THE BROKEN EARTH TRILOGY, and THE BOOK EATERS.

I am a married mother of two, a lab supervisor at a cancer clinic, and a new author.

Thank you for all you do,

Offline Lanita

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Re: Adult Fantasy query review
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2022, 02:50:56 PM »
Dear [agent]:

“Keep a light on and never stop fighting.” Italics would work better than a quote. That's what Willow must teach her daughters in order to protect them from the insidious, shadowy, fear-eating soldiers before that dark army comes to take her back.

Complete at 88,000 words, OUT OF THE DARK is a blend of women’s fiction, horror and contemporary fantasy (Just choose one. This sounds like fantasy to me.). This novel checks a few boxes on your MSWL: speculative horror, complex characters, imaginative settings, and a touch of magic. (This paragraph needs to be moved down. Add it just before your bio)

For eighty years, the Fae Realm has been dark and magicless (Why?), victim to a curse and Cursed by ____ and victimized (probably a better word than victimized) by the depraved Grim Army, Willow is a fae prisoner. (This could be confusing. Is she is fae who is being held prisoner or she is human and held prisoner by the fae? Also, why is she being held? What does the army want?) When Willow finally escapes, she and finds refuge with a (human?) father and his young daughter in the rural Texas hill country. Willow grows to love and trust the pair as they help her to heal.  and eventually deciding She stays with them and forges a new family. to stay with them, to forge a new family.

Willow can’t outrun her homeland’s curse forever, though. (We still don't know what the curse is. You can describe it briefly.) The Grim General hunts her down (Why? Is this part connected to the curse?) and drags her away from her new family, back to the dark prison, the constant terror, and the fear-eating monsters (Weren't they soldiers above? For clarity, you shouldn't call something by two different names in a query.) Hope comes in the form of Willow’s daughters (when did Willow have daughters? They should be mentioned above because fleeing without them seems important to mention): one struggling to cope with crushing distrust and the other victim to an inherited and destructive power she struggles to control. (Just like in a synopsis, queries don't contain subplots. Focus on the MC.) and They are joined by two cocky fae shifters, Willow’s long-time allies. In a race against the Grim Army, this family (which one? The fae or the human family? Or both?) will have to fight fear (is this a play on the fear-eating? And do you mean they have to fight their own fear or the fear of others?) with fire if they’re to break the curse and stitch their family back together.

This novel should appeal to fans of Holly Black, THE BROKEN EARTH TRILOGY, and THE BOOK EATERS.

I am a married mother of two, and a lab supervisor at a cancer clinic, and a new author. (Does this mean you have a published book you should mention? If not, I'd leave it out)

Thank you for all you do, (This isn't a professional sign-off.)
Thank you for your time and consideration.


Sounds like it could be an interesting story, but I'm not sure what the story is and don't feel invested in the characters. Also, this feels more like a plot driven story, so it doesn't read like women's fiction, which is always about an emotional journey (it should have been named emotional fiction or relationship fiction). I know query letters are hard to write, but you might want to go back over your MS and do another editing pass to make sure there isn't this sort of confusion in your story.

Offline MichelleG

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Re: Adult Fantasy query review
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2022, 02:59:40 PM »
Okay then - I got that allllll wrong.  This makes a lot more sense.  Could you add something about escaping, but leaving her daughters behind.

“Keep a light on and never stop fighting.”  really liked that.

This version is so much better.
"You look at these scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of isolation and the impunity with which crime may be committed there." - Sherlock Homes, The Copper Beeches - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle