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The Last Smile in Sunder City

(The Fetch Phillips Archives #1)

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  2,396 ratings  ·  619 reviews
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
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 6th 2020 by Orbit
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Cally Jean It's technically an adult book, but I don't think there's anything that would be too inappropriate for teens. Bit of violence, and the protagonist vis…moreIt's technically an adult book, but I don't think there's anything that would be too inappropriate for teens. Bit of violence, and the protagonist visits a brothel to interview someone there. (less)

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Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
ARC provided by the publisher—Orbit—in exchange for an honest review.

A well-written urban fantasy with a wonderful take on the premise of “what happens when magic runs out?”

The Last Smile in Sunder City is Luke Arnold’s debut, it’s the first book in an urban fantasy series titled Fetch Phillips Archives. I think I’m speaking on behalf of many readers that we have come to know the name Luke Arnold from his role as “Long” John Silver in the Black Sails TV series. Admittedly, I didn’t finish watchi
There is so much to love in Luke Arnold's debut, a dark, urban fantasy noir, it is so well written and positively drips with atmosphere. Then there is the central protagonist, the downbeat, jaded, cynical, tired, and self loathing detective, Fetch Philips. The world building is done with style and imagination, so richly descriptive that you can picture Sunder City, a place that originally grew and built upon the underground fire pit and the blue collar workers who made their living from the gian ...more
Fetch Phillips has a lot to atone for. More than most people realise, or he’d already be dead. Living at what might euphemistically be called rock bottom, he takes a last minute job investigating the disappearance of a vampire teacher at a local school. It’s this or die. The temptation to throw himself out the Angel door of his office is becoming too hard to resist. But Sunder City hides all manner of things in its shadows and Fetch is about to find himself a problem that might just be too big f ...more
Jan 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
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Actual Rating: 3.75 stars

“Sometimes, the one who looks like a monster turns out to be a monster.”

Thanks for the publisher for providing me with an E-ARC of the book through Netgalley. That does not affect my review of the book.

I know some readers are excited for this one because the author is a good actor. I did not watch the TV series he plays in and I just read this because the synopsis sounded good to me and because the cover is gorgeous
Holly (Holly Hearts Books)
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: review-copies, own
“A good man is made through a lifetime of work. Great men are made by their monsters.”

The Wolf Among Us meets L.A. Noire in this new urban fantasy. Luke Arnold has delivered a well-written adventure, with an added dose of stylish noire presentation.
Fetch Phillips is a mercenary for hire with a colorful past. Running from one job to another, following whoever rings the bell. Fetch has a character introduction that’s funny, brutal, and mysterious in the best possible ways.

Set in a grimey place cal
Jan 25, 2020 rated it liked it
I should have loved this. The world Luke Arnold created here (post-magic, well-thought-out, imaginative) is absolutely brilliant. I adore stories that deal with the fall-out of an event that fundamentally alters the laws of the physical world (see N. K. Jemisin's books and Robert Jackson Bennett's The Divine Cities trilogy for excellent examples) and this book does this incredibly - on a world-building level. I got the impression that Arnold's imagination is endless and the way in which he thoug ...more
The underlying premise of this book is that 6 years ago humans tried to harness magic but instead they destroyed it. Since then all of the magical creatures lost their powers and have had to struggle for existence. That poses a problem in urban fantasy, since the author has removed all of the fantasy from the present. The formerly magical creatures (including elf, dwarf, werewolf, vampire, ogre, gnome, goblin, satyr and siren) just look weird and are helpless in the presence of human greed and i ...more
TS Chan
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-review-copy
ARC received from the publisher, Orbit UK, in exchange for an honest review.

4.5 stars.

The Last Smile in Sunder City was an impressive debut by Luke Arnold; a dark urban fantasy that enraptured me with its stellar worldbuilding and writing style.

Firstly, I've never been exposed to much noir elements in my reading so far, so I won't be able to make any comparisons. However, I can still safely say that this book accurately captured that feel in its worldbuilding and the characterisation of its main
ARC provided by the publisher, Orbit in exchange for an honest opinion. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and the quotes included may have changed in the released copy.

Actual rating: 3.5 stars

The Last Smile in Sunder City is a UF mystery, imbued with a unique personality, a moody atmosphere and a deep wistfulness.

The very first paragraph set the tone quite immediately, hurtling you into Fetch Phillips' melancholic thoughts and destroyed world. For the world, or more specifically
Nicholas Eames
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A great start to a promising series. I listened to the audiobook for this, which I think is the perfect medium for it, since the author himself narrates the story--and does so really, really well.

Being a 'noir detective' tale, there's an huge number of analogies (my cup of tea) and most of them are fantastic. A bit of humour, a bit of poignancy, a ton of interesting characters...I'm looking forward to seeing where Fetch goes next!
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It was over. The world will continue to turn and there will still be jobs and season and kissing and chocolate; there just won't be any music in it any more. We can bite the fruit and understand that it is sweet but not taste it. We will look at the sunrise and do our best to will some kind of warmth into our hearts and feel nothing.
That is the Coda

I don't like most noir, much as I want to - a lot of it is simply too grim, and there's plenty of that around without adding it into my reading time.
Last Smile is a blend of urban fantasy with Hardboiled private eye. You see there once where all these magical beings, but the war is over, the magic is gone, and the elves, the dwarves, the ogres, and the goblins are now doctors, lawyers, and accountants. Lots of good imagination at work here, but I never fully bought into the concept.
Jan 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Originally posted to I Should Read That

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free.

I’m not familiar with Luke Arnold’s acting career, however I was still intrigued by his debut novel, The Last Smile in Sunder City. I had heard good things about it and was incredibly curious to try it for myself. I admit I was a little wary going in because the book seemed to have some similarities to The Dresden Files, a series that I very much dislike, however Th
Peter McLean
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
The magic didn't die, it was killed. That's a problem in a world that runs on magic. When humans killed the magic, they doomed all the magical creatures in their world to suffering and death. Technology stopped working, factories stopped running, dragons fell out of the air, elves got very old very quickly, and dryads turned to dead wood. It's fair to say this lead to some resentment.

Welcome to Sunder City, a bleak, noir cityscape struggling to come to terms with the Coda, the death of magic. Wh
Aug 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, fantasy, dystopian, mr-b
The world in this book reminded me of Pixar's latest film Onward. It's set in a world with mythical creatures- werewolves, vampires, sirens, ogres and more are commonplace, but they are essentially living in a normal city, set in a time where magic no longer exists.

Our main character is a depressed human detective who was hired to investigate the disappearance of a vampire. As a character he hits a lot of the down-on-his luck detective stereotypes- he is an alcoholic loner with a dark past, tryi
The Nerd Daily
Jan 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Annie Deo

The Last Smile in Sunder City is a dark fantasy noir novel in which the protagonist investigates a disappearance that appears simple on the surface, but as he digs deeper, he becomes embroiled in a complex web of deceit, corruption and violence.

In the classic tradition of noir fiction, the protagonist Fetch Phillips is a deeply flawed and morally ambiguous man in a broken world where nothing makes sense anymore and the lines between rig
A successful blend of detective noir and urban fantasy. I can't begin to express how much I love this novel.

A protagonist who by all accounts should be unlovable, uninteresting, even unlikeable, yet I love him. He was so well-written, it was easy to get a glimpse into his mind and soul, and get a real understanding of him. At that point, Fletch Phillips became a trusted friend.

Deep, immersive, a little lengthy at times, yet the world building in this book made Sunder City an interesting, vivid
Amanda Hupe
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, 2020-reads
If you are familiar with my blog, then you know I am a HUGE fan of pirates. So when I found out that Black Sails actor, Luke Arnold wrote a book. I could not resist. The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold is the first book in an urban fantasy series called the Fetch Phillips Archives. Magic has been torn away from the world, but the creatures are still there. Everything is upside down. Fetch Phillips is human. He holds so much guilt. Once a soldier now a man for hire. One job he picks up i ...more
Feb 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: arcs
The Last Smile in Sunder City has an interesting concept, but fails in in execution. Arnold focuses on his world at the expense of the plot.

The Last Smile in Sunder City features a lot of fantasy elements making the world rich and colorful, however Arnold relies heavily on the telling the reader about his world instead of showing. There are pages upon pages of the main character directly explaining to the reader why things are the way they are or how things got to be a certain way. It almost bec
The Tattooed Book Geek (Drew).
4.5 stars.

There was once magic in the world and magical creatures, dragons, gryphons, elves, werewolves, vampires, gnomes, dwarves, giants, ogres, wizards, gremlins, goblins, banshees, sirens etc. If it is a fantasy creature that you have heard of then the chances are very high that Arnold has included it in The Last Smile in Sunder City and then you had humans, flesh and blood, non-magical and ordinary human beings.

After a devastating event that has come to be known as ‘the Coda‘ where humans w
Mogsy (MMOGC)
Mar 28, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

This is going to be a short review because The Last Smile in Sunder City was a relatively short book—straightforward and uncomplicated, and that’s no bad thing. The story may be a bit on the sparse side for how fascinating its setting is, but author Luke Arnold makes up for this with the kind of care and intricate attention to world-building detail that we speculative fiction fans live for.

And really, what more do you ne
Maja Ingrid
May 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: urban-fantasy
While the world building is really good, an urban fantasy in a fantastical world where (humans) destroyed magic and now we see the consequences of it, it was way too info-dumpy than it should for being such a short book. It made the pacing clunky and kind of awful. All the information about Sunder, the gone magic and the city's inhabitants, along with Fetch's flashbacks, took away from the main story.

Not sure yet if I'll pick up the next book. But this was a debut novel, and there's so much pote
Rob Hayes
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm making a bit of an effort this year to read some new books. It's pretty important, especially to debut authors, that folk take a chance on the new stuff instead of just reading the next book by Sanderson or Martin. So, I figured this one was fairly short, narrated by the author himself, and... bloody hell, it was written by Long John Silver. I'm in!

The Last Smile in Sunder City is a book written in metaphors. I like a bit of noir. The bitter PI, drinking hard and smoking harder, down on thei
Lauren Stoolfire
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold has a lot of potential to be a great urban fantasy noir, but it never quite makes it there. Noir is one of my favorite genres, both film and books, so I jump at the chance to try something new. It's can be a lot of fun when combined urban fantasy which is one of my other favorite genres and this story has quite a bit to like about it, especially when it comes to the atmosphere of the wo
Alisi ☆ wants to read too many books ☆
This was terrible. If I could describe it, it would be as though David Caruso, in his role as Horatio Caine, was sailing a sea made up of metaphors and similes, if all Horatio did was to speak those one liners and was suicidally depressed and drunk the entire book -- oh, and without any ability to solve the mysteries presented to him.

Magic died 5 years ago in this fantasy world. This was done by jealous humans who were... jealous. And now all the magical folk aren't magical anymore. It's a bit o
Christi M
Feb 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Last Smile in Sunder City is a noir fantasy book following Fetch Phillips, a struggling PI detective, or a ‘Man for Hire’, as he prefers to be called.

Years prior to when this story begins, this world experienced an event called the “Coda” where the human army was envious of the power of magic and decided to change…everything. In their lust to capture magic for themselves they fundamentally changed magic for everyone. The world was now drained of magic. Some creatures were immediately no more
Sheila Goicea
I received an ARC of this book from Orbit via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! In no way does this affect my rating or review.



My Blog ¦ Bookstagram ¦ Twitter ¦ Pinterest ¦ Facebook
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Full review is here, on my blog!~

This story takes place in Sunder City, which is a city not so much unlike our own at one time or another. Well, kind of anyway. The world is peopled with all kinds of magical beings. Vampires, Werewolves, Wizards, Banshee, Sirens, and so on, but the magic is gone. Humans killed it. So we see a city of magical beings learning to live without the magic that sustains them. Vampires are slowly dying. Banshee are mute. Werewolves are very much half human and half wolf
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Last Smile in Sunder City is not a book I would normally read- I'm not very familiar with the fantasy genre except for some of the classics, so I approached this book with few presumptions and was happy to appreciate a novel so outside of my usual genre wheelhouse. A few have already gone at length about the use of setting- I think this is what surprised me most about the book. There's some necessary exposition at the beginning of the novel that very clearly, very pointedly lays down some of ...more
keikii Eats Books
To read more of my reviews, check out my blog at keikii Eats Books!

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.

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. Oth
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