I’ll admit, while I’d seen Lisa Bee’s review of this earlier this year, the book didn’t really land on my radar until I watched Black Sails over the summer and it was mentioned that Luke Arnold who plays John Silver had written this as well as a sequel that came out this year, and that he did the audio version himself. I was suitably lured in by this info and many thanks to crystalclear for getting me the audio version. The book tells the story of a former soldier turned PI who tries to help the fantasy creatures whose lives were ruined in a world that’s lost its magic.
As a debut, The Last Smile in Sunder City is a good book. It’s a good book by really any metric, but it isn’t great and that made me sad because there’s a lot here that could have been great. It also made me stall out for six weeks and read other things or just listen to podcasts in the car. The Last Smile in Sunder City is an urban fantasy that’s also a private eye/detective story. It’s also a story of what happens to an urban space when its source of power (in this case, magic) is gone. Arnold has a lot of good imagination and world building happening here, but the story’s ability to hold my attention came and went with the plotting, and that bummed me out. The backstories of the war, and our main character Fetch’s growing up pulled me in, as did the aftereffects of the war and what it cost everyone but most specifically the magical creatures – but I struggled to sink into the actual mystery the book was supposed to be about – finding a missing vampire.
I’m not sure if I’ll keep reading this series, but Arnold is a good enough writer that I’m intrigued.