Review: The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold

A former soldier turned PI tries to help the fantasy creatures whose lives he ruined sunder cityin 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.

This book came with my March subscription box! Sounded good – I was curious. But ugh, did I really NOT like it. I read the whole book, but maybe I shouldn’t have.

The setting is alright. It’s a world that houses all kinds of magical creatures – elves, dwarfs, ogres, vampires etc. And humans. But due to humans being jealous of the magic the other creatures had, they ruined everything and the magic vanished. Now those once glorious creatures lead sad lives. Their magic is gone and they are struggling. Elves turned ancient in only days, vampires are slowly crumbling to dust and dragons fell from the sky.

I liked the concept! It’s dark and depressing but there’s a lot you can do with it.

Our main character, Fetch Phillips, is a human. A Man for Hire. He’s somewhat responsible for what happened but we only find out slowly. He’s one of the most unlikeable protagonists I’ve come across. Honestly, there’s not a single thing to like about him. He’s a drunk, he’s rude, selfish and wallows in self-pity. He’s a freaking asshole and I didn’t want to read about him.

In the story, Fetch gets hired to find out what happened to an old vampire who vanished. And he goes about it in the most incompetent way possible! It blew my mind how useless he was. He didn’t actually figure anything out on his own and the story jumps to weird interludes all the time. It didn’t know what it wanted to be. If you’re a Fantasy murder mystery, be more straight forward.

There’s just so many things happening that didn’t help the story or didn’t make sense. Like suddenly there’s a flood and then Fetch drops everything to save a freaking mansion and does some grand real estate scheme that he just whipped up in a minute in between still unsuccessfully hunting that vampire? And then they throw a missing girl in who doesn’t really need to be there?

Nah, sorry. Too all over the place, Fetch was even more of a dick in the end after we found out what he did and I don’t want to see any more of him!

★☆ (1.5/5)

It gets half the star for the setting which was acceptable^^


  1. I actually just wrote my review for this today, and haha I think I enjoyed it more than you. I agree it was definitely light on story (like there was barely a mystery plot there), but I did enjoy the character development – even though it didn’t all show him in a positive light – and the world-building.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe it’s better if you don’t have very high expectations! I found that sometimes in the past when I read negative reviews & lowered my expectations I actually enjoyed it more? If that makes sense? 😁


  2. From the reviews I read – and my own experience – I have come to the conclusion that this is a book, and a character, that will divide readers. Personally I enjoyed the story and felt something like pity for Fetch, although I admit he’s not exactly *likable* by usual standards. I’m sorry this didn’t work for you and I hope the next book you read fares better!
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. After all of the reviews, I must say that this book is more intriguing to me now because it seems so split on people that absolutely love it or hated it! Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

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