Monday, February 24, 2020

Review: The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold

The Last Smile in Sunder City
The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold
Publication Date: February 6th, 2020
Paperback. 352 pages

About The Last Smile in Sunder City:

"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 is an urban fantasy that really took me by surprise. It takes place in a world in which the magic that once inhabited the land and allowed various magical creatures to thrive has essentially "run out" and the creatures are left without magic, something with various physical forms that denote their once magic selves, while others, such as the Vampires, slowly begin to die since the magic that once kept them alive is now gone as well.

Urban fantasy and its similar genres/styles aren't usually my go-to, but I really loved the sound of this one and the unique premise that it contained, and I'm glad I did since it turned out to have a really interesting world and concepts that kept me hooked. Arnold also has a really pleasing writing style that made this book easy to fall into--in fact, when I first picked it up I had only been planning to check out the first chapter and before I knew it I had already read through more than a few of them. There's something very smooth and welcoming about his writing that makes it accessible and easy to fall into.

I found Fetch Phillips to be such an oddly endearing character, though not one that feels particularly unique. He's one of those that comes across as a bit gruff, doesn't really take himself--or much of anything--very seriously, and has far too much confidence for his own good and safety, but still manages to make you enjoy him and eager to see what he plans to do next. The book is told solely from Fetch's POV, but it does alternate occasionally between the present day timeline and some flashbacks from Fetch's life that provide some needed background to his life.

This is a world in which humans are generally hated by most magical creatures for being the cause of the magic going away (which isn't without good reason), so there are a lot of themes relating to that at play, such as dealing with those who are oppressed and their reactions towards humans. Fetch has to navigate a world in which he, a human, is unwelcome, but still wants to do things for magical creatures while essentially ignoring the humans and refusing to work for them. I really loved the way Arnold navigated all of these topics and the different lessons and sentiments he explores.

Overall, I've given The Last Smile in Sunder City four stars! I really had a fun time with this and would absolutely recommend it to any fantasy reader, especially those who love urban fantasy.

*I received a copy of The Last Smile in Sunder City courtesy of Orbit in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the novel.*

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  1. I'm regretting not requesting a review copy of this, since everyone seems to love it. But I may just buy a copy, I'm intrigued­čśü

  2. I'm so intrigued by this, and not least because Luke Arnold wrote it! I loved Black Sails. I don't read nearly enough urban fantasy but this one is going to the top of my list to try. :)