Anyway, here is Misha's letter again, this time with my feedback, in blue.
Sixteen-year-old Callan Blair has been in the British foster care system for five years. One thing that's missing here is how many families she's been through. That was one of the strengths of your previous version. She should be equipped for just about anything. Turns out… not so much?
This opening is good. You start with character: good. You put her in a situation in which we feel sympathy for her: good. You hint at some kind of inciting incident: not as good, but it's fine, because you get to that in the very next sentence. One thing I want more of (and if you read this blog a lot, I may sound like a broken record) is character. We have Callan's age, and her situation, but we don't know who she is. What kind of person. Brave or cowardly? Kind or cruel? Even one or two words can go a very long way.
On day one at her new school, a lethal I'm not sure about this word here. Aren't all knights potentially lethal? knight (more like arrogant bastard - I'll say more about language in queries later) drags her through a doorway into Tardith,
The idea of having a real family and friends is a dream come true. Marrying a sadistic man with genocide on the mind in order to protect them…
I would end here. This paragraph is short on some of the details from your earlier version, but it works for me. Plently of conflict, very high stakes, and a tough, sadistic choice. Those are the bread and butter of queries.
Equipped for anything. What was she thinking? I'm undecided about this. It's adds a nice bit of voice, and if your manuscript's narrator is a bit sarcastic sounding like this, you might want to include it, but it could work either way.
So, before I summarize, a brief note on foul language. I love it. My manuscripts are full of fucks and shits and assholes, and even in YA lit I think it's authentic, depending, of course, on the characters, but I think you have to be careful with queries. My own first query had a pair of "bad-asses" in it, and I think it was important to include them, to give a sense of the tone of the voice in the manuscript, but I would never put a "fuck" in a query. Anyway, my point for this query is that I think the "asshole" might be a bit too much. I really like the "arrogant bastard," though.
Okay, and now, in summary: this query is way better. You're missing a few world building elements from before, but you get to the point so much more succinctly. That's part of the reason I suggest using a few more of the fantasy names like Alfen Cairn.
Anyway, otherwise this query is mostly quite good. The beginning needs the most work, but if you can introduce us to Callan in a way that we would care about her more right away, I think you'd be in great shape.
What do you all think?