Joana Morais's Reviews > The Last Smile in Sunder City

The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold
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“A man might falter but his words, once written, will hold.”

*3.5 Stars

The Last Smile in Sunder City is a mystery set in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world. Admittedly, that sounds like a little much, so let's break it down:

In Luke Arnold's debut we follow Fetch Williams, a cynical man-for-hire tasked with uncovering the truth behind the disappearance of a vampire. This plot is set to the backdrop of a world that recently lost all its magic in an event called Coda, leaving all magical beings to deal with the loss of their magic, aging and all those pesky things humans deal with. The mystery is intertwined with flashbacks, not only of Fetch's life but also of how the Coda came to be.

The best thing in this book is, in my opinion, the world building. A lot of times, books involving magic fail to explain just how dependent of magic the world is. In Sunder City, technology, culture and the economy are all very affected by the Coda, and this all gets explored in the narrative. We also learn a lot about the different magic species, the tales told of their origins and how they were affected by the Coda. Culturally, it was really interesting to see how humans reacted, as they had always been 'inferior' and now had an even playing field. If you've ever wondered what would happen if the good guys didn't defeat the bad guy threatening to put an end to all magic, this is the book for you.

Fetch Williams himself also deserves a separate paragraph of this review. I've mentioned he was cynical, but he was Cynical almost to a fault, as seen here: "Something about the place (a school) reminded me of jail." If you happen to be a fan of Les Miserables, Fetch felt like the Grantaire-type character that I love to see. He's by no means a likeable character, but as we uncover more of his past, his actions (past and present) are easy to understand.

Some Positives:
+ Fetch has four tattoos on his arm, and the flashbacks follow a narrative of how he came to acquire each one. It was a great way to make the flashbacks flow with the rest of the story, especially since it's told in first person.
+ There's a conversation on how quickly people can fall from grace (lose their money, their home, their status) and I thought it was done very well.
+ There's a character who uses they/them pronouns which I wasn't expecting but was very happy to see!

Some Negatives:
- The representation of women, especially sex workers, left a lot to be desired.
- The pacing felt a little choppy sometimes, especially towards the end of the book.
- It was a little info-dumpy at times.

All in all, The Last Smile in Sunder City was a surprising read and I'd recommend it if you're looking for a standalone fantasy with a murder-mystery twist to it.

TWs: addiction, mentions of suicide

Copy provided by Orbit and Netgally in exchange for an honest review.
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Reading Progress

January 10, 2020 – Shelved
January 10, 2020 – Shelved as: to-read
January 13, 2020 – Started Reading
January 13, 2020 –
10.0% "This is my first arc y’all 🥺"
January 16, 2020 –
20.0% "Love my grantaire book"
January 17, 2020 –
25.0% "Chef ... check your fatphobia chef"
January 20, 2020 –
40.0% "I have things to say 👀"
January 29, 2020 –
January 31, 2020 – Finished Reading

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