Amazon Blurb:

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 comes out February 25, 2020. Preorder Now!

Quote:

I hadn’t changed his mind; I’d just made his whole vigilante act a lot less fun. Fetch Phillips: professional party pooper. If there’s a thing he can’t ruin; buddy, we ain’t found it yet.

Review:

The world sucks, and everyone hates it. And it wasn’t always this way. War happened, and the result was that magic left the world in an instant. Creatures that lived for centuries lay dying or were dead soon after magic left. Others lost their wings, or fangs. It was only a few years ago, and no one has recovered yet. An entire world has had to grieve their loss at what they were, and learn to accept the new. It’s a process.

For everyone except the humans.

Fetch Phillips is human. And he is the person responsible for why the world is the way it is. The one who got magic killed. He is also a drunken private investigator/man for hire who everyone hates, including himself. And he is incredibly weak and easily lead which amounts to a not so decent person. You see his story, past and present, told throughout the book. You slowly learn how and why he caused magic to die.

In The Last Smile in Sunder City, Fetch Phillips is hired by the only place in Sunder City that is willing to accept that the past is gone and it is time to look towards the future: a school for children. One of their teachers has gone missing, a vampire who has also decided that the future is the only way to go – even if it means he’ll die of starvation since blood is no longer sustaining vampires. The investigation will not be kind to Fetch, but nothing ever is.

I’m super conflicted about this book. The world Luke Arnold wrote was really good, and sustained me throughout my reading. In fact, I’m looking forward to reading book two in the future, entirely because of the world created. It was a lot of the other parts I had trouble with. I do have to say that I compared this to pretty much everything else I’ve read, though. Sometimes instead of reading. It was typically a favourable comparison, though, and sometimes I felt Luke Arnold did better than what I was comparing it against.

I don’t mind characters with a sordid backstory, especially ones who are struggling with their inner demons the entire time. But Fetch Phillips just didn’t do it for me. I… I mostly just blamed him. He was the cause of all his problems with exactly zero redeeming qualities. And he had no real side characters to attach myself to either. He was very alone the entire book. But there is potential in the future, I believe.

The pacing was also incredibly off. The story was told in past and present format, where Fetch Phillips often ruminates on what happened in the past. Mostly because he is always thinking about what happened. And it just completely breaks up the entire flow of the book. The investigation of the book, the missing vampire, often took a backseat entirely, and I felt like I would go chapters without hearing about it again, because we’d get a little bit of the present where nothing happened – and then back to the past.

Overall, I enjoyed The Last Smile in Sunder City and I’m really looking forward to book two. I want to see where this story is going. I want to see if Fetch Phillips ever grows a backbone and makes friends, not enemies. And I think my pacing problems will be gone when I no longer have to need to learn about what happened in the past to understand the present. Yes, I had some problems with book one, but they were not insurmountable.

I received this book from Orbit in exchange for an honest review.