Personllay (see what I did there?) I subscribe to the Janet Reid method, which basically says that nothing matters more than story. In other words, save your personalization for the end. The reason for this is simple, a mediocre query may be overlooked if the pages are stellar enough, but no amount of personalization is going to sell a mediocre manuscript. So in other words, get right to what matters: story.
Caveat: obviously different agents have different preferences, if you happen to know what they prefer, certainly stick with that.
Eighteen-year-old Native-American, I don't believe you hyphenate Native American, and furthermore, it feels a little ... insensitive. I mean, I get what you're going for, and I LOVE POC in the books I read, but if the most important aspect of his character is his race ... you're in trouble. I'm sure it doesn't work that way in the book, but including it in the query seems a bit forced. Thomas Skyhawk wants out of the Supernatural hunter business. I like this. A hint of world, AND some built in conflict. Good start. Since a failed mission three years ago, he’s wrestled with being an Akara guard, but he can’t simply walk away from a job that’s been his family’s occupation for generations. There’s also his padina, or blood brother, to consider. They’ve come up through the ranks together
Okay. So this isn't bad, but I'm concerned you have a bit much here. I like what you're trying to do by mentioning Thomas is Native American, but I'm afraid that's the wrong detail to go with. Something else about his character, about who he is before what happens to him starts ... happening, would go a long way toward making your reader sympathize with him.
Then ... the details about his family and his brother and the creature are good, but I feel like you take too many words to get it all out. You want your opening paragraph to introduce a character, and then get as quickly and as hookily to an inciting incident as you can. Obviously certain details cannot be skipped, but if you can tighten this paragraph up, you'd be in better shape.
To make matters worse, his people are becoming uncomfortably close to the local ghost population, Oh wow. Ghosts too? Okay. his own mother turns out to be a witch hell-bent on his destruction, And witches? Got it. and his longlost half-sister has been groomed by a cult to infiltrate and destroy his village. And cultists? So it's like Resident Evil meets TrueBlood? I like it. In a world where enemies lurk beneath even the friendliest faces, Great line. Thomas must use everything he has to not only survive but to save his people from an evil that threatens to engulf them. This last clause is kind of meh. It's not only vague, but it's implicitly understood anyway. For one thing, what is everything Thomas has? Does he have powers? Tech? Magic? Poisonous farts? Whatever it is, be specific. And furthermore, which evil? The creature? The cult? The ghosts? You need to work on making exactly what the conflict is crystal clear. You've got a lot of cool elements included here, but there's very little sense of how it all goes down.
I’m a Lit Intern at Month9Books. I blog at http://www.tracikenworth.wordpress.com. I would move these details into or after your word count and genre paragraph. You can see how I do my own queries, here.
LIFE AS THE WALKING DEAD is a NA Horror manuscript
Writing as Traci Kenworth
Okay, in summary, you've got what is clearly a very cool world going here. From Van Helsing to Vampire Hunter D, I'm a sucker for characters who hunt evil (or monsters, whatever), but ... there really is no clear sense of plot. It's almost like you've got two-thirds of a query letter here. You've got your character, his world, and inciting incident, more details of the world and some hints at who the antagonist might be, but then ... you just end it. What is the main conflict? You vaguely mention evil engulfing Thomas' people, but we've got no idea which evil, or how they go about it.
Obviously, with no sense of the main conflict, it's difficult to move on to choice, but that's actually the least critical of the three Cs. However, don't despair. You've got something good going here, it just needs a little work. Your world is well imagined, and exciting. You've got a good start on a sense of character, and some excellent bits of writing. If you can just work on fleshing out the final third of this query, I think you'd be in great shape.
What do you all think? Please share your feedback in the comments, and thank Traci for being so brave to share her query letter with us.