Agent personal paragraph.
The word on a sixteen-year-old Knox Gidden is that he's nothing but military-brat, emphasis on brat. THIS is great. Query writers out there: READ THIS opening line. THIS is how you introduce a character in a query and make us care from the get go. If I had to nitpick this line, I would say that using "The word on," weakens it a tiny bit, but it also gives it nuance, because it means a lot of people see Knox that way, but it's not really true. Until recently he was fine with that. I'm not sure you need this. On the one hand, it's good, because it speaks of a call to action, but on the other, in the next sentence, you move on to something else. He's lost count of how many times his family has relocated (not really) and it's left him withdrawn, bitter, a loner with a tendency to act out by playing nasty tricks on moving day. I almost want to see "moving day" capitalized. Like it's this big thing, that happens so often, it's become a proper noun for Knox. "Moving Day." But after his mother died of cancer and a tragic prank-gone-wrong that put his brother in a wheelchair, a guilt-ridden Knox wants to clean up his act. The family's transfer to Ox-Bow, deemed their "final move", is supposed to be a fresh-start for everyone. Unbeknownst to them, something else has moved in with them.
Okay. So this is really good. It's very specific, it has a strong sense of character, who we can sympathize with not only because of his suffering, but because of how he chooses to react to it. That said, it's a little long, and we haven't gotten to an inciting incident just yet. I'm guessing you're about to, and if so that's probably fine, but I just wanted to point it out because that kind of one-two punch of CHARACTER-HOOK(Inciting Incident) is usually what bookends the opening paragraph in a good query.
After all the empty cartons have been dragged to the curb, one more box mysteriously appears.
Hmm. This is a lot of named characters for a query, but I kind of think you make it work. It's four characters in all, which is a lot, but you give them each at least one uniquely identifying characteristic, and the way you bundle everyone together at the end except for Knox makes it work. Others may disagree.
Time is short for Knox and his friends. Can they find a way to save his step-mom before the malevolent force draws closer to ending the game and obtaining the two things it desires the most -- mortal fear, and fresh souls? Unfortunately, history says otherwise.
This, unfortunately, is vague. In fact, the second paragraph really doesn't give us a clear sense of the conflict either, which is where that usually takes place. I'll write more about this in my summary.
MOVING FEAR (an 80,000 word YA Horror) is a standalone with series potential which combines the type of haunting plot of Kendare Blake's
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Okay, so in summary, I think this query is in great shape. To be perfectly honest, if I was an agent looking for this kind of story, I would probably skip from the end of the first paragraph, down to the housekeeping, and then jump right into the pages.
I think you'll get a lot of requests if you send this query out as is. That said, there is still room for improvement (there almost always is). The main thing missing here is a better and more specific sense of exactly what the conflict is. Now, we have a vague sense of a spirit that lives in a box (or something) who may want to steal Knox's stepmother's soul (probably).
I get that you want to keep things a bit mysterious, and you certainly don't want to give away an ending in a query letter, but it might help to know a bit more about exactly what the malevolent force wants, how it accomplishes its goals, and what Knox and team can do to stop it.
One thing that comes to mind (and this may not work in a query unless it works in the story) is that what if Knox struggles about whether or not he wants to save his step mom? That would leave him a pretty nice sadistic choice, which is a great way to end a query and entice readers to want pages.
What do you all think? Anything you would add?