Sep 4, 2010

Query - Penahligon's Attic

Dear Agent.

Molly Mackenzie is quite happy to be moving to Cornwall. She’s upset Gran died, of course; they were very close, and living in her home will be difficult to begin with. But Molly likes the little town of Helston, she likes her school, her new friends, and she particularly likes her part-time job in Gran’s bookshop.

What she doesn’t like, is discovering the ghost of a sixteen year old girl has been prowling the attic for over 350 years. According to local lore, Amy Trevellick had been murdered over an illicit affair by her brother, Sebastian. Now she haunts what used to be the town jail, where Sebastian had spent his last hours before being hanged for the crime.
Sebastian himself haunts the inn where Amy died, and when Molly’s friend – keen to help her investigate – ventures too close, Sebastian mistakes him for the reborn spirit of the man who had caused the deadly confrontation there.

Unless Molly can unite the two ghosts and uncover the truth of what happened the night Amy died, Sebastian’s need for revenge will drive him across the thin divide between the territories of the dead and the living, and more innocents will die.

In her search for a way to save her friend, Molly finds Granny Ally’s diaries, filled with the ramblings of a woman generally dismissed as likeable but eccentric. But they prove Gran to have been far more in tune with her world than her indulgent but sceptical family had ever imagined.

PENHALIGON’S ATTIC, a paranormal tale for young adults, is complete at 70,000 words.

Many thanks for your time.


Anonymous Author said...

This seems pretty good except for the beginning and the end. The beginning seems to take too long to get started. Query Shark always says to start with the character and the choice she faces.

The end seems to come out of left field-- Gran hasn't seemed to be part of the story heretofore, and so it's a little confusing having her brought in at the end. I'd leave that out, and just focus on Molly and her situation.

Zee Lemke said...

I love the first paragraph, but that comment is right, you need to start quicker. Something more like "Except for the 350-year-old ghost in the attic, Molly is quite happy to be living in Cornwall now." Then Gran. Then the ghosts.

What the heck did Sebastian do to the friend? Why does Molly have to save him if he's not dead? Sebastian... grabbed him and pulled him across the divide? Are the "more innocents" who will die more than S&A, or more than the friend? Gah.

Seriously worried about too many characters, here. We have Molly, Molly's friend, Molly's grandmother, and two ghosts. I think of these, you can actually best take out Gran. The ghosts are (possibly inadvertently) the antagonists, Molly is the protagonist, and the friend is the sense of urgency. I don't think you need Gran to get the plot across.

How old is Molly? I have no sense whatsoever of her age. That matters to whether this is YA or not.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! Will re-work and re-post :)

Mesmerix said...

As others have stated, the query needs to start with the 2nd paragraph's hook "dead girl in the attic." You can filter in some of the 1st paragraph's backstory throughout, or cut it. We don't really need much backstory.

I had serious name confusion about who was doing what-where-when in the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs. Try to do your best to break it down to 1 character, 2 max (protag+antag). Otherwise, it tends to be really confusing.

All in all, I think this is a very solid start. Some find tuning would do wonders for clarity and adding voice to the query. Excellent beginning.

Mesmerix said...

Oh! Forgot, this line really confused me, "Trevellick had been murdered over an illicit affair by her brother, Sebastian."

At first I thought she had an affair WITH her brother, who subsequently killed her. You may want to clarify that because I don't think it's the case in a YA novel, at least I hope not! :P