Despite enjoying your 250 words, I never got around to critiquing your query.
Thanks Zhar! Those suggestions were really helpful, and I feel like this will be my best version yet:
In the underwater kingdom of Syren, Princess Ondine is the only girl who can’t swim While your next sentence clarifies, and while I know from the context of reading some of your other stuff, to me this reads too much like she never learned to swim rather than physically can't. I imagine her going around with little inflatable floaties on her arms. Probably not what you want. . After losing both her legs, her metal prosthetics keep her from being carried away by the currents, but they also weigh her down and make her an object of ridicule.
Still, nobody makes Ondine feel inferior without her permission. I think this is a good indicator of her character. She fights at the drop of a fin, and fearlessly rides her manta ray in the deadliest races. Her reckless lifestyle is an embarrassment to the royal family, but she’s never cared about politics. Not until a border lord is murdered by agents of the Nereid Kingdom, and whispers circulate of a traitor in the palace.
When Ondine catches the king’s spymaster meeting secretly with the Nereids, she immediately tells her father, So you've presented her as a strong, independent young woman, but now here the moment there's trouble she goes running to daddy. Which is a very logical thing to do, and I don't have a problem with her doing it in-story, but here it just feels like she's tattling. Is there a way you can rephrase this. but he doesn't believe her. No one does except Antipater, the royal adviser who knows her better than anyone, and a handsome manta racer who would rather whisk her away than get involved So I assume Antipater is not the handsome manta racer? This whole sentence reads awkwardly. But when the spymaster turns up dead, she learns that the real traitor is Antipater himself. How does she learn this?
Ondine knows she has to stop him, even though he has been like a second father to her. Because if she fails, there will be another death in the palace. And this time, the victim will be her real father, the King of Syren. So you established that her father didn't believe her earlier, but I think you could establish even more strongly why Ondine has to deal with this herself rather than someone more qualified. I think that would also help up the stakes, because then it makes it really clear that she is dealing with this on her own.
OCEANS DEEP is an 80,000-word YA fantasy that should appeal to fans of a strong female lead and political intrigue, as found in Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
I mean, I want to read your book. Between the snippets I read before, and the positive way you portray Ondine, plus just the cool, unique setting, it all looks very promising. Just a few things to clean up query-wise. Speaking of, since I didn't really follow up in blue on this point, and since I'm assuming that Antipater is not the manta racer, the manta racer is just kinda there in the query, with just the one reference. Either follow up on him or cut him out.