I'm happy to report that the first query critique seems to have been a success. There were more entries than I thought there would be (thanks to everyone who entered!) and the winner of the critique was Emy Shin.
Dear Ms. Pestritto,
In a kingdom where magic promises power and wealth, the only fate worse than death is having magic stripped from you. [This sentence didn't really draw me in. It was clunky and didn't quite convey anything important...wouldn't people with magic naturally be powerful and wealthy, and want to keep that power?] To the elite few bestowed with magic, power and wealth are only a wish away. What Toeighteen-year-old Rin wishes for, however, it’s is the perfect revenge against her father, the coward who abandoned his family for magic [So then not everyone has magic? And how would you abandon someone FOR magic? Explain this a bit more.] and caused her mother’s death.However, the magic-draining spell is forbiddenonly very few people know how to perform the forbidden magic-draining spell, and to steal it, Rin must seek out the man who invented it himself: the Beast, a vain and prickly creature who only cares for himself. [Maybe instead of letting us know he is vain here, tell us who is he (Government scientist? Rogue magician?) and why he has the magic-draining spell and is cursed.]The Beast needs to have his curse [What curse?] broken before the winter passes, or risks being stuck in this form forever [So he’s man? How does he know how to drain magic and yet not deal with this curse? Who was the curse bestowed by?... This sentence is bringing up a lot of questions for me as a reader.]-- and Rin needs an excuse to remain close to him. Her bargain: She will find him his true love in exchange for a new identity as his apprentice. It’s the perfect arrangement. [The word “bargain” makes me think that she’s not STEALING the spell from him so much as telling him what she needs and giving him something in return. Is that the case? If so, why would she need an excuse to stay close to him?]What Rin doesn’t count on, however, is falling for the Beast herself . Except[Except what? This reads a little awkwardly – I get what you’re trying to say, but it needs to be worded differently or it doesn’t quite make sense.]falling in love with the Beast and thinking that she might be the one to break his curse. But she has already tried kissedkissing him. And failedhe is still a monster.MORE THORNS THAN ROSES is a YA Fantasy complete at 90,000 words [That word count is a little scary. I would leave it off and instead say that this is a re-imagining of Beauty and the Beast!]]. Thank you for your consideration.Sincerely,Emy Shin
I thought this was a great story idea with a lot of interesting potential, and if you have any thoughts on the critique or questions about why I did the things I did, post in the comments section below. If there are more than eight comments (and not just one-word things, please, real comments! I don't want to be giving away 100-page critiques like glasses of water) then Emy will win the author treatment :)