The Last Smile In Sunder City by Luke Arnold – A Book Review

Last Smile


I’m Fetch Phillips, just like it says on the window. There are three 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, it’s not the humans who need my help.
I just want one real case. One chance to do something good. Because it’s my fault the magic is never coming back.


Author: Luke Arnold

Publisher: Orbit

Release Date: 06/02/2020

Pages: 352

My Rating of ‘The Last Smile in Sunder City’: 4 out of 5

My Chosen Format: Kindle

Purchase:Ā Amazon UK,Ā Amazon US



I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Last Smile in Sunder City is the debut novel of Luke Arnold (one of the stars of the TV show ‘Black Sails’. Fortunately, for me, I don’t really know anything about Luke from his acting so my thoughts on the book aren’t sullied by fandom.

That being said; Luke Arnold can write. He can tell a really good story in a really interesting and informal way. It’s a refreshing way to read a novel and it made the pages fly by.

Fetch Phillips is a human living in a city populated by (once) magical beings such as gnomes, elves, wizards etc … If you’ve seen it in a fantasy movie or book, Luke Arnold’s city has that fantasy race/creature. Sadly, due to a cataclysm known as The Coda, magic has left the world. Elves aged rapidly, werewolves got stuck midway between beast form and man, vampires lost everything that made them vampires etc … In this city Fetch operates as a Man for Hire (private investigator) who only works for those once magical beings.

May sound pretty specieist but, humans aren’t nearly as needy as the magical folk who have to learn how to exist without what makes them them.

Despite the fact that Fetch is an alcoholic who lives in a bubble of perpetual self-hate, he’s actually a really likeable character.

The story itself centres around a missing persons case yet there’s so much going on that it pays to keep your attention firmly fixed. This isn’t all just praise when I say that, though. I think the author tries to fit too much into a debut. I find the biggest flaw with this book is that info-dumps happen so much and last for so long, that it’s hard to remember what the actual plot was leading to before the info dump began. Some of these info-dumps are flashbacks and are integral to the story, but others are what amounts to the author mentioning gargoyles and then suddenly deciding that a ten page backstory on gargoyles are required.

Some of the flashbacks are really interesting, we even get the title of the book explained in one of the flashbacks, but due to the amount of info-dumps I found myself lumbering the flashbacks and info-dumps in with each other on my ‘things that annoy me’ list.

If I’m being brutally honest and brutally picky, that is what caused this book to score less than full marks. Were it not for the mass of info-dumps I’d have happily given it 5 out of 5 as it was so much fun to read and so enjoyably different. It was still all of those things, even with the dumps, but I just feel they took some of the shine off of the diamond that this book could have been.

Fetch Phillips is an intriguing character and I really like the story being told and the potential of where this series could go in the future. So I’ll certainly follow the future adventures of Fetch Phillips.

But Luke, if you are reading this … please make the info-dumps less dumpy.

12 thoughts on “The Last Smile In Sunder City by Luke Arnold – A Book Review

  1. Balancing the need for details on the world and the dangers of long exposition is not easy, and a new author might not strike that correct balance at first try. Still, your mostly positive review convinces me that I should give this one a look, indeed… Thanks for sharing! šŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are much more patient than I am. I think with that many info dumps (and sounding like they fell down a rabbit hole of a tangent) would probably not go down well with me. Glad you enjoyed it though! The rest of it sounds like fun.

    Liked by 1 person

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