Today we have Tanya's query again, this time with my feedback, in blue.
Eighteen-year-old Jasmyn McKeery is next in line to inherit Grandma Agatha's magic. Tradition dictates her magic is passed on to the next female kin, but Agatha feels Jasmyn's jealousy and bitterness towards her eight-year-old sister Katarina may be a problem. She struggles with a decision that will affect both their lives and possibly worsen their relationship. Neither Katarina nor Jasmyn knows of their grandmother's gift or of the inheritance. Agatha takes her secret to her grave.
Okay, this ... started out pretty well. I mean that first sentence ain't half bad, but then ... it gets pretty confusing, pretty fast.
This query is missing any housekeeping, so I don't really know if this is intended as a YA novel, and regardless of whether it is or not, what genre it fits in. Furthermore, with the opening line the way it is, it seems Jasmyn would be our protagonist, but then the rest of the paragraph tumbles into this odd space where it seems like it's Agatha's story, not Jasmyn's.
Their grandmother's death reopens old wounds and the rift between Jasmyn and Katarina grows. Through fits of sadness and resentment, spells are accidentally recited and rituals are unintentionally performed. With the powers unbeknownst to them, the sisters release an indestructible nemesis from a supernatural prison and now the world is in danger.
And then Agatha dies? That's not necessarily a problem, in the sense of story structure and building conflict, but the way this query is built that makes most of the first paragraph essentially pointless. It's not so much that the details you share in that paragraph aren't worthwhile, it's just that the way they're worded, they sound like parts of Agatha's story, not Jasmyn and Katarina's.
Assuming you can reword that paragraph so that whose story it is becomes clear, the details of this second paragraph need to be worked on too. The conflict is good and clear, but how the sisters go about combating it is vague and needs to be clarified with specificity. What or who is this nemesis? How did they release it? Exactly what kind of supernatural prison was it in, and can they send it back?
I understand you don't want to give everything away in a query, but outside of perhaps the ending, there's not much point in holding back important details from an agent you're hoping will represent you as an author.
Agatha's secret is soon revealed How? and Katarina is thought By who? to have been the chosen one. Feeling betrayed by her grandmother and ousted by the rest of her family, Jasmyn flees her home and leaves the world-saving efforts to Katarina and her magic.
This is kind of a nice twist, but it also actually confuses things even more. What we thought at first was Agatha's story, and then Jasmyn's, now becomes Katarina's? Who is eight years old? Is this a MG novel?
But Agatha At this point, considering she's dead, I would suggest you stop referring to her by her name. choice isn't exactly what everyone believes. Huh? How exactly is her choice revealed? Did she leave a will? Or is it just that whoever has the magic is the chosen one? Somehow, both Katarina and Jasmyn have inherited some of her magic, Ah, okay. and now they need to work together to capture the evil they've unleashed. It's difficult to tell what is the main conflict in the plot of this story. Is it the sibling rivalry, or the indestructible nemesis? If it's the nemesis, that needs to be given much more weight in the query. Can the two sister mend their broken relationship in time to defeat these monsters of darkness, or will their sibling rivalry be the death of them? And if it's both (which it now seems to be), that's fine, but don't let the nemesis take such a back seat in the query. Describing him/it/her or whatever specifically, and possibly even naming it, would make it much harder to forget about when you're covering all the sibling rivalry bits.
Okay, so in summary, this query needs some work. But not all is lost. You've clearly got the fundamentals of a good story here, and if you can just tease them out a bit better, and be more specific about the minutiae, you'd be on your way to a great query.
It's also highly unclear whether this is mainly Jasmyn's story, or whether perhaps it's Katarina's (or both), and you definitely need to clarify that, because it would make a hug difference in whether we're considering a YA novel, or a MG one.
What do you all think? Anything I missed?