The Last Smile in Sunder City – Luke Arnold

three stars black
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 352
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: February 25, 2020


A former soldier turned PI tries to help the fantasy creatures whose lives he ruined in a world that’s lost its magic in a compelling debut fantasy by Black Sails actor Luke Arnold. Welcome to Sunder City. The magic is gone but the monsters remain.I’m Fetch Phillips, just like it says on the window. There are a few things you should know before you hire me:1. Sobriety costs extra.2. My services are confidential.3. I don’t work for humans. It’s nothing personal–I’m human myself. But after what happened, to the magic, it’s not the humans who need my help. Walk the streets of Sunder City and meet Fetch, his magical clients, and a darkly imagined world perfect for readers of Ben Aaronovitch and Jim Butcher.


The Last Smile in Sunder City has an interesting concept, but fails in in execution. Arnold focuses on his world at the expense of the plot.

The Last Smile in Sunder City features a lot of fantasy elements making the world rich and colorful, however Arnold relies heavily on the telling the reader about his world instead of showing. There are pages upon pages of the main character directly explaining to the reader why things are the way they are or how things got to be a certain way. It almost becomes formulaic.

What I enjoyed most about The Last Smile in Sunder City was its gritty noir vibe. Readers get know Fetch and come to realize he’s not a black or white character. Fetch operates in the grey and has no problems doing so. Fetch’s investigation is also something else I really enjoyed, however Arnold spends more time developing his world than the actual mystery. So, by the end of the novel the mystery has barely moved and is then quickly resolved.

Overall, The Last Smile in Sunder City is an interesting concept that fails in its execution by focusing too much on world building at the expense of the actual plot. The Last Smile in Sunder City is the first in a series, so I may be interested in reading the sequel since all the heavy lifting for the world building is already done.

***I received an ARC via Netgalley for an honest review.


Have you read The Last Smile in Sunder City? What did you think?





5 thoughts on “The Last Smile in Sunder City – Luke Arnold

  1. This is the second review I’ve seen that said this book was kind of meh. It’s a shame because Fetch sounds like my kind of character. I’ll be curious to see if people like the sequel any better.

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