The Last Smile in Sunder City
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 Details

TitleThe Last Smile in Sunder City
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 6th, 2020
PublisherOrbit
ISBN-139780356512884
Rating
GenreFantasy, Urban Fantasy, Mystery, Fiction

The Last Smile in Sunder City Review

  • Petrik
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by the publisherOrbitin 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 Arnolds debut, its the first book in an urban fantasy series titled Fetch Phillips Archives. I think Im 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 didnt finish watching the TV 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 watching the TV series until I saw Orbit’s announcement of Arnold’s debut, which frankly intrigued me. He did an incredible job there on the TV series, but how about his debut as a fantasy author? Well, there’s nothing to worry about, this was a great read, and I think if you know what you’re getting into, you’ll find that there’s plenty of things to love within this short book. “I like books. They’re quiet, dignified and absolute. A man might falter but his words, once written, will hold.” The world used to run on magic, but when the magic of the world disappeared, every magical creature suffered from the effects extremely. The story follows Fetch Phillips, a Man for Hire who worked odd jobs to help non-Humans in order to redeem his sin. Fetch’s job in this novel is to find a missing professor, a four hundred years old vampire. This situation seems impossible, the loss of magic should’ve ceased vampires' existence, and so the mystery thickens and Fetch’s investigation begins. We’ve heard of this premise before, many stories have danced their tune upon this premise, but I have to say that Arnold’s writing style and fascinating world-building was able to invoke a refreshing feeling surrounding the concept. “In my short and sorry life, I’ve seen many people hide a desire for terrible deeds beneath an apparent higher calling. It’s not hard to find a belief system that will support your own selfish needs. The big surprise for me was discovering that it works the other way too. These broken-winged brothers, even without their story, just have naturally decent hearts.” Almost the entirety of the novel focuses its narrative on two timelines, one being the present which revolves around Fetch’s investigations, and the other one Fetch’s flashback narrative that led to his biggest sin. Please don’t come into this book expecting there will be many action scenes, in total there were probably three small scenes, but the lack of action scenes doesn’t mean that it’s a boring book; not every book need action scenes to shine. Throughout the novel, we follow the first-person narration of Fetch Phillips exclusively, and honestly speaking, there isn’t much to Fetch’s characterizations that made his background or character distinctive. You know how it is, he’s someone who regretted his actions, ended up running to booze, and now he wants one more shot at redemption. It’s a common story, but thankfully, redemption is a theme, when done right, that I enjoy reading, and Arnold nailed the voice of the main character superbly. I do sincerely hope that there will be more prominent side characters in the sequel to add varieties to the narrative because Fetch was the only noteworthy character in this book. However, what’s lacking in the cast of characters department was redeemed by Arnold’s lovely writing style that made the themes of penance, hope, and regrets in the narrative so compelling to read. “I was only in my thirties but I was old. You don’t measure age in years, you measure it in lessons learned and repeated mistakes and how hard it is to force a little hope into your heart. Old just means jaded and cynical and tired. And boy, was I tired.” There’s something about Arnold’s prose that I found to be so accessible, melancholic, and lovely to read. The word ‘Smile’ may be in the title of the novel but don’t let this mislead you into thinking this is a hopeful book, focus on the word ‘Sunder’ instead. The Last Smile in Sunder City is bleak and depressing, the melancholic tone infused into the prose was splendidly done. For example, one of the main themes of the book is how dangerous hope can be. Take a look at these two passages: “Maybe nobody gets better. Maybe bad people just gets worse. It’s not the bad things that make people bad, though. From what I’ve seen, we all work together in the face of adversity. Join up like brothers and work to overcome whatever big old evil wants to hold us down. The thing that kills is the hope. Give a good man something to protect and you’ll turn him into a killer.” And this “But it’s easy to accept your fate when you know you can’t change it. Things get harder when you have a little hope.” Aren’t they so well-written? I found Arnold’s way of using the juxtaposition of situations to get his point across was incredibly effective to get my attention.A great actor and also a great writer, Fetch Phillips would most likely say that life isn’t fair. But hey, as an avid consumer of escapism content, I’m happy that I’ve watched Black Sails, and I’ve read this book. The Last Smile in Sunder City is an urban fantasy debut with an impressive writing style and intricately immersive world-building. The book certainly ended on a standalone manner, and I have absolutely no idea where the story will go from here. I look forward to what Arnold has next in-store! “Mostly, these historical legends come in pairs. Nothing allows a man to flourish quite like an adversary of equal strength. On their own, some of these figures might never have been noticed, but face them off against each other in bloody conflict and both names get drilled into the record book. A good man is made through a lifetime of work. Great men are made by their monsters.” Official release date: 6th February 2020 (UK) and 2nd February 2020 (US)You can pre-order the book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository (Free shipping)The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel NotionsSpecial thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!My Patrons: Alfred, Devin, Hamad, Mike, Miracle, Nicholas.
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  • Paromjit
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 giant factory established there. It is a different place now, there was the pre-Coda world and the devastation of the human wrought Coda that brought with it disaster. It used to be a world where magic flourished, a world of magic folk, wizards, goblins, satyrs, elves, and more, and a great river of magic that humans eyed enviously, for they could not do magic and thought they would be able to do so if they took over the river.However, they got more than they bargained for as they triggered the collapse of the magical world and its creatures, with fatal consequences, body modifications and increased suffering. Fetch bears responsibility for this horror of the post-Coda tragedy, weighed down by his guilt and driving his refusal to work for humans. Work is a scarce commodity for him, so when he is offered an opportunity by Principal Simon Burbage of the Ridgerock Academy, a rare cross-species school, he has no choice but to take it up. One of the Academy's teachers, the elderly vampire, the kindly Albert Rye has disappeared, and the apparently genial Burbage wants Fetch to find him. In a narrative where we learn of Fetch's childhood and personal history, Fetch stumbles over dead bodies, in a case that proves to be more challenging and demanding than he could have ever expected.Arnold depicts a dangerous and inhospitable city where hate and violence proliferate, with the likes of the religious sect of winged monks helping the burgeoning tribe of homeless. Humans continue to spew forth their hatred against the once magical creatures, and there are nail gangs who deploy brutality against them. I was captivated by so much of this novel, but for me, Arnold needed to move the action and plot a little more quickly than he did. That is not to say that this is not a wonderful read, it is, but my enjoyment was marred by a little too much lingering in the world building part. Otherwise, this is a great debut. Many thanks to Little, Brown for an ARC.
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  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    Fetch Phillips has a lot to atone for. More than most people realise, or hed 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. Its 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 for 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 for him to handle…The dystopian, post-war, post-magic Sunder City is all kinds of awesome. It’s clear that this is where the author has let his imagination and creativity go to work. What happens when the magic goes away? All kinds of shit. Once immortal creatures dusting away; twisted creatures not quite one thing or another, stuck in grotesque half forms; society, industry, politics, and culture patched back together as the magical races fall and humans become ascendant… Yes, yes, yes, this is a dark and desperate place where things can happen… The problem is this: while this achieves its aim for a noir feel, it lacks that ever so important distinctive voice which these types of books need to stand out, regardless of genre. There is absolutely nothing about Fetch to hold on to. Alcoholic, guilt-ridden, lost his love, suicidal, averagely intelligent, limited self-awareness. Blah. He really is the cliche. Character wise, there’s nothing to redeem him, making you wonder why you should care. He only barely seems to want to redeem himself, which doesn’t help either. What makes it worse is that the plot is slow. S l o w. There are only 3 main action scenes I can recall: one past battle, one major fuck up, and one part of a chucked in thread that seemed to have no bearing on the main plot at all. There's lots of plodding investigation and flashbacks to where it all went wrong for him. It all seemed a little too justificatory to me. I did the worst thing ever…but I was used, I was lied to, this person didn’t love me, this person did (but I didn’t want them to)… You see the problem. Writing this now, I’m starting to realise just how much I didn’t like Fetch Phillips.If Luke Arnold wants to continue this series, he needs to up his game. The worldbuilding might be top notch, but the characterisation and plot is seriously lacking.ARC via Netgalley
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  • Holly (Holly Hearts Books)
    January 1, 1970
    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 thats funny, brutal, and mysterious in the best possible ways.Set in a grimey place called “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 called Sunder city where a catastrophic event known as The Coda occurred which lead to all magic to stop. To seize to exist. It lead to a good chunk of the city dead. The people went cold and hungry in their homes. Elves age quicker, vampires die faster, werewolves to become deformed, Dragons to fall from the sky. It's sobering, sad, and tense. Fetch is tasked to search for a missing vampire. Each clue and scenario Fetch is brought up against brings you to a new area of Sunder City. We experience many locations in a short amount of time. The pace is functional, simple, and satisfying. It’s a story that is constantly moving. What Luke Arnold brings to the table is an injection of actual detective work.  There were some slower flashback chapters but they are absolutely necessary for the story to evolve.If this first book is any indication of the rest of the series, then Fetch’s adventure is set to provide an adventure every bit as memorable as the classic Big Bad Wolf.
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  • Hamad
    January 1, 1970
    Actual Rating: 3.75 starsRTC soon...
  • Hannah
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 thought out how this sudden disappearence of magic would influence different magical races worked really well for me. I also really like mysteries set in an urban fantasy kind of epic fantasy world. Sunder City is a brilliantly done fantasy city, with flavours of a darker Ankh-Morpork. But there were two big kinds of problems I had with this book - one that I think is a problem with the book itself and one which I have to admit has more to do with my own reading tastes.First for the more "objective" criticism I had: I found the writing clumsy. This showed itself mostly in a pacing that was, frankly, abysmal. The story moved in fits and bursts to suddenly coming to an absolute standstill, with the backstory and the world-building integrated in heavy, heavy info-dumps. While it did not bother me as much as it could have if the word hadn't been as fascinating, it led to the book feeling much longer than it actually was. The writing is also clumsy on a sentence-by-sentence level and filled with odd descriptions that took me out of my reading flow (examples: "My boots sucked up mud like hungry dogs in a pit of peanut-butter...", "Thick smoke tunneled through my nose like an escaped prisoner..." or my personal favourite "The future of [...] looked darker than a blackbird's shadow at midnight").But ultimately my main issue with this book came down to the main character: Fetch Philipps is everything that annoys me with male protagonists in noir type stories. He is a guilt-ridden, alcoholic, direction-less, and unpleasant private investigator who is not snarky or intelligent enough to be interesting. He is also weirdly indistinct as a main character - he reads super young in the flashbacks and middle aged in present time, he reacts more to what is going on than being a more active player, his motivations are deeply selfish until they suddenly aren't, and his narration never became a distinct voice for me (and additionally, I found it fairly male gaze-y). I admit that this has a lot more to do with my own reading tastes but he really did rub me the wrong way. He is also, and this is a petty issue, disgusting - there were a few scenes where he behaves in a weirdly disgusting way in order to intimidate (?) people (like when he downs the drink the bartender he is questioning spit in or when he drinks from an open bottle although other people informed him there were flies swimming in there).Content warning: trauma, loss of a loved one, alcoholism, substance abuseI received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Quotes are taken from an advanced copy and are subject to change.You can find this review and other thoughts on books on my blog.
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  • Haïfa
    January 1, 1970
    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 starsThe 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 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 starsThe 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 the world’s essence, was indeed destroyed beyond repair six years ago when the humans decided they were done being the inferior race. Early on, we learn that the Human Army discovered the location of the source of magic and by trying to harness it for themselves, froze it instead. The immortal Elves withered, The Vampires lost their vigor and their fangs, the shapeshifters became monsters, neither beasts nor men, the mighty dragons fell from the sky. And Fetch Phillips, former soldier turned PI, believes he’s the one to blame for this tragedy. Racked with guilt and regrets, on a steady diet of opiate and alcohol, Fetch became a man for hire, working solely for non-humans. Life once felt so grand and meaningful. This new world is hushed. Diminished. Fleeting. I should have loved this book. I used to enjoy mysteries and I was excited to revisit this genre in a unique Urban Fantasy setting. I was warned beforehand that The Last Smile was a slow book. No problem! Investigations tend to be slow and complicated. But Fetch’s was downright tedious and I felt the pacing suffered from multiple digressions. Fetch’s misery and guilt impeded his investigation and he became his own obstacle, turning in circles, ignoring promising leads, mouthing off, getting himself trashed and thrashed and trying desperately and unsuccessfully to redeem old sins. What had I become, when laughter felt like a lashing? If I'm being honest, this could have worked for me if I cared more about Fetch. Heck one of my favorite UF series mixes investigation and personal tribulations. But Fetch was not a likable character. He did his best to prevent you from liking him, especially at first. His investigation quickly turned into a meandering stroll down memory lane and was pervaded with so much misery and remorse that I had to consume it a little sip at a time. It didn’t help that I also found the characterization wanting as Fetch had to take most of it upon his wary shoulders. It too much for a one character to carry, more so when said character was already weighed down with his past. The other characters came and went, too furtively and lacking depth to make a lasting impression. The only interesting ones were the ghosts (figuratively) from Fetch’s past and the missing person he was tasked to track. Neither of them had enough screen time to develop into well fleshed out personalities, even though their influence on Fetch's life and personality was tangible. A good man is made through a lifetime of work. Great men are made by their monsters. Characters and pacing issues put aside however, I was thoroughly impressed by Luke Arnold’s writing and imagination. The prose was just perfect for the story and the atmosphere. Arnold’s words were straightforward, clever and raw and even felt oppressive when the situation demanded it. Following the unfolding story, it went gradually from dry and quite emotionless to quite evocative and engaging, capturing skillfully the subtle shifts that took place in both Sunder City and Fetch. I like books. They’re quiet, dignified and absolute. A man might falter but his words, once written, will hold. Something I very much enjoyed as well were the detailed flashback sequences that Arnold incorporated into the narrative and that told young Fetch’s story prior to the Coda, the destruction of magic. Though these sections didn’t redeem Fetch in my book, they urged me forward to discover the real story behind the continuous hint dropping and made me appreciate the extent of the disaster that befell the world and its consequences. The world, post-Coda, was meticulously built, morbidly fascinating and one of the bleakest and saddest I’ve visited so far. We all fear the other, and if we ever make friends with our enemy, the first thing we do as allies is identify some new foe. There is no real peace, only the brief moments while we turn our heads from one adversary to the next. . Despite my conflicting feelings about this book, Luke Arnold’s debut impressed me on many levels. It held a rough around the edges kind of charm and its conclusion left me curious for more.You can find this and more at Novel Notions.
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  • TS Chan
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 character, Fetch Phillips. In a world where magic was destroyed, creatures or beings dependent on magic for their existence suffered delibitating effects. The setting has a truly bleak, post-apocalyptic feel. Sunder City couldn't be more appropriate a name for a progressive city where all hopes and dreams have been torn asunder when magic was lost. "It was over. The world will continue to turn and there will still be jobs and seasons and kissing and chocolate; there just won't be music in it anymore. 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 warmth into our hearts and feel nothing." The entire narrative is told from the first person perspective of Fetch Phillips, Man for Hire. As far as noir type stories are concerned, Fetch could be considered as a standard trope. He appeared to be an even more hardboiled Constantine. World-weary, given to vices to numb his pain and regrets, and still trying to atone for the his mistake (not with much success) even though he believed it to be futile. A man for hire for pretty much anything to get by, I saw him as a highly sympathetic and realistic character. Fetch's voice is one of the highlights of the novel for me. I think Luke Arnold nailed his characterisation from the way he thinks and talks. "There was no denying that it was bad taste for him to become a mortician after the Coda, but where else does a Necromancer go when the dead stop rising to his call? Sometimes it's just too hard to say goodbye to old friends." There are hidden depths of emotion in our main character which I found compelling. Everyone makes mistakes, he just happened to commit the biggest one of all. When a unexpected and almost impossible possibility reveals itself, would he dare to hope again, or would he give in to resigned acceptance. "The thing that kills us is the hope. Give a good man something to protect and you'll turn him into a killer." The entire plot of the story was centred around an investigation of a missing vampire. Throughout the narrative, the worldbuilding unfolds through the interactions Fetch had with various ex-magical beings like Gnomes, Elves, Sirens, Witches, Wizards, Werewolves, etc etc. The loss of magic was felt very keenly when we get to see how these non-humans are getting by, or rather, barely scraping by. We also get rather long monologues from Fetch about his backstory leading to the annihilation of magic in this world. Although it felt info-dumpy at times, it was still fascinating.I absolutely have to commend the writing style of the author, as I was so enamoured with it. The writing was lyrical, almost poetic at times, but also gritty, raw and darkly humourous. I don't think that I've ever highlighted so many quotes in an urban fantasy book before. Many a times I caught myself swirling those phrases and word choices around in my head, savouring the elegant simplicity with which it was all put together. "I like books. They're quiet, dignified and absolute. A man might falter but his words, once written, will hold." The Last Smile in Sunder City was not your typical urban fantasy with a lot of action. It's a slow-paced mystery and at the heart of it, about a defeated man still trying to make amends and find redemption. I've always thought that I'm not the type who would enjoy such bleak stories, but Arnold's writing was remarkably engaging. Couple that with the excellent worldbuilding, and I was hooked from start to finish.Official release date: 6th February 2020 (UK) and 25th February 2020 (US)You can pre-order a copy of the book from Amazon US | Amazon UK | Book Depository (Free shipping)You can find this and my other reviews at Novel Notions.
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  • Dave
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Justine
    January 1, 1970
    Originally posted to I Should Read ThatI received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free.Im not familiar with Luke Arnolds 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 The Originally posted to I Should Read ThatI 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 The Last Smile in Sunder City proved to be exactly what I wanted from The Dresden Files. I enjoyed the heck out of The Last Smile in Sunder City -- Arnold manages to strike the perfect balance between grit and snark, as well as magic and reality. As a huge fan of film noir, I can confidently say that he manages to capture the spirit of noir and crafted the book with such care and passion -- never once did it fall into caricature or cartoonishness, which I sometimes find with books that attempt a noir setting. I absolutely loved the world and world building in this book -- the concept of a land that has lost its magic years before and the impact that loss has on the magical and non-magical citizens was incredibly compelling. Arnold did a fantastic job of painting a bleak picture of Sunder City’s present day, while giving the reader the story of its past. The various types of magical creatures and how everything from their lifestyles to physiology changed after the Coda was so awful, yet totally fascinating and inventive. I really enjoyed that he included so much about how the magically-enhanced technology crumbled as well, launching the world into a bizarre modern dark ages. I was completely absorbed by the events of the Coda and would love to read more in this setting and about this world. I absolutely, unexpectedly, adored the character of Fetch Phillips. He’s a refreshing and updated (and not a misogynist! What a concept), yet completely identifiable noir detective. He’s a hard drinking, unkept mess of a man trying to atone for the sins of his past, but you never doubt for a moment that he cares deeply for the people he is investigating or for the lives of the formerly magical folk whose lives have been torn apart. I really enjoyed his back story and the way that details of his past are teased out over the course of the book.I did find the pacing a little choppy at times, especially with the long flashback sequences tucked in between events. It didn't slow down things down, but I found that it did pull me out of the story a little. However, I did really appreciate those sequences because they added so much richness to Fetch's backstory.Overall, The Last Smile in Sunder City was an absolute treat to read. The perfect crossover between fantasy and noir, it’s a fast-paced read that will keep you turning the pages late into the night.
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  • Peter McLean
    January 1, 1970
    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. 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. Where werewolves are living rough on skid row, permanently half-changed, where cat people live in slum alleyways and toothless vampires teach college to make ends meet. Where a human called Fetch Phillips is trying to atone for what he did.The despairing vibe of Sunder City can be summed up in this one line from Pete the Dogman: "I'd rather be ashamed of the things I've done than ashamed of the things that others have done to me."It's a parable, certainly, but this book has a marvellous noir voice; Luke Arnold has captured the spirit of the genre perfectly and wrapped it around a fantasy setting with consummate skill.
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  • Amanda
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 is looking for a vampire. He uses his detective skills to search out this 400-year-old vampire. When the magic was destroyed, magical creatures suffered, vampires included. This mystery seems like an impossible task and the more he digs, the more dangerous this task becomes.As far as debut novels go, The Last Smile in Sunder City is spectacular! The storyline is complex, with well-developed characters. The story left me wanting more! Since it is the first book in a fantasy series, it is a little slow. As a fan of fantasy, that is pretty typical. The authors need to focus on world-building and creating a cast of characters. I absolutely love the premise of a magical world with the magic stripped away. It kind of reminded me of BBC’s Merlin, where magic is banned in Camelot. Sorry. I got distracted. I tend to do that with fantasy.The other aspect that I love about this novel is the writing in general. The writing has a very noir feel to it and also poetic in a sense. It is dark and with seriously flawed characters. Fletch Phillips is phenomenal. I can’t wait to see what is in store for his character in the next book. I rate this book 4 out 5 stars! If you enjoy urban fantasy, then this book is for you. It is available February 25th!Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read the book!
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  • Terry
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 place with a tragic history. An uncomfortable, dark, hate filled place, filled with violence and corruption, which became familiar, even almost comfortable through the author's skillful storytelling. I grew to love Sunder City too.The world building in this novel is near perfect as the foundation for the next books in this series.Luke Arnold is a new favorite author and "The Last Smile in Sunder City" is a new favorite book. I love this author's skill, creativity and imagination. I'll buy anything and everything with his name on the cover.For me, this book was a breath of fresh air. It was unique in the fact that it did not rely on constant action to make it work. It introduced me to the person, allowed me to get to know the person, then become aware of and learn about the world they lived in. I'm sure now, with the way Luke Arnold wrote this first book, that there's plenty of time for action in the following books. Plus, I won't have to experience it alone. I have my new friend and companion Fletch Phillips to take the journey with. We've already become good friends.
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  • The Nerd Daily
    January 1, 1970
    Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Annie DeoThe 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 Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Annie DeoThe 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 right and wrong have been blurred beyond distinction. Sunder City shares traits with the standard noir landscape as Fetch walks its mean streets to visit seedy bars, torch-lit town squares lined with thugs, garish brothels and more. But it’s creatively fused together with fantasy so that this world is also populated with Cyclops bartenders, Ogre bouncers, Elvish and Mermaid ladies of the night plus a hodge-podge of other creatures from myth and folktales.From the very first page, Fetch is the epitome of the anti-hero, presenting himself as a barely functioning alcoholic whose work life is in shambles and is actively flirting with death to escape from his guilt over a mysterious past. The only thing keeping him from teetering over the brink of self-destruction is the memory of a woman who beseeched him to do good with his life instead. This is what distinguishes him from popular characters like Marvel’s Jessica Jones (a modern fantasy noir example) whose tragic past shapes her into a bitter misanthrope who uses sarcasm to alienate people around her. While Fetch is also cynical and world-weary, he doesn’t typically lash out at others and is more open about his desire to help people while remaining self-aware that he is a trainwreck of a human being and likely to make more of a mess of things.“‘So, you’re a Man For Hire?’‘That’s right.’‘Why not just call yourself a detective?’‘I was worried that might make me sound intelligent.’ “The Last Smile in Sunder City (and what a gut-wrenching moment it is when you arrive at the scene which inspired the book title) is both a fantastic character study and a thrilling detective romp. Because of the noir sensibility, these two elements are closely wound together – you can’t separate Fetch’s character from the case he is investigating in the way that you could on the likes of CSI or Law & Order where the investigators are normally consummate professionals whose personality and home life have little impact on their job. The hare-brained manner in which Fetch follows leads regardless (or perhaps because) of the painful consequences for him, the allies or enemies he engages with along the way down the path to the bitter truth and the compromises he agrees to in order to make progress…it all sheds light on who he is as a person. Which is to say, decidedly not heroic, given to indulging his vices and listening to the devil on his shoulder and unfortunately prone to bad judgement.“I’d been awake for several minutes but didn’t want to admit it to myself. If I admitted that I was awake, I’d also have to accept the fact that I’d screwed up. I was under a bridge in a bad part of town with a broken nose, no shoes, and nobody to blame but myself.”Sunder City and the world beyond feels utterly convincing and lived-in due to the remarkable level of thought and detail that the author has put into its creation. Magic once existed in this universe, but was lost thanks to the selfish actions of humans who were jealous of other beings with abilities superior to their own. After they broke the world in what came to be known as the ‘Coda’, centuries of living caught up to elves who deteriorated rapidly, banshees lost their voice, wizards became powerless to perform spells, vampires found blood no longer sustained them and on and on, with catastrophe afflicting every single magical race and leaving humans at the top of the food chain. Through flashbacks, the author unspools the series of events that led up to the Coda, detailing how our knight in tarnished armour was involved in the whole sorry mess, and offers a view at the world in its heyday when magic still ruled and the future looked bright.This is in stark contrast to the grey, rundown state of despair that most people occupy in the present day, aside from some avaricious humans who have profited as a result of the Coda and can assert their superiority now. The shift in politics, impact on daily life and changing dynamics between the species is well-thought out and also very smoothly incorporated into the story. Exposition is often considered a dirty word, but it’s the execution that’s important; here, the author conveys vital information to readers over a couple pages in the first chapter in a manner which makes sense for the story and engages the audience with this new world by showing its effect on Fetch and setting up the mystery of his past. Once this heavy lifting was done, each of the future concepts and locations that are introduced feel like they gracefully fall into place because the overall structure of Fetch’s world is so clearly established. The writing flows easily and is wonderfully evocative, creating vivid impressions of everything Fetch sees and hears – it’s sometimes sad, sometimes distasteful, but never less than truly immersive.“The Human Army had won their war, but their victory destroyed the spoils. The magic they’d hoped to harness was gone, so they change their name and moved their focus. The generals became managers and the soldiers became salesmen. They only waited a courteous couple of months after breaking the world before offering to sell their products to it.Of course, no ex-magical business wanted to hand over their savings to the idiots who screwed up the future of existence, but what choice did they have?”I had no issues with the pacing myself, but because of the focus on character building with intermittent flashbacks, some readers may find the pace a little slow. In addition, the writing sometimes veers over the line from descriptive to confusing flowery prose (the librarian apparently has ‘lips you could throw to a drowning sailor‘).This is a stunning debut that showcases incredible talent and imagination. If you like the sound of an enjoyable character-driven mystery with amazing world-building, I highly recommend picking this up!
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  • Lauren Stoolfire
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 world-building. Unfortunately, it doesn't really stand out where it needs to with the voice of the leading character Fetch Phillips. Also the pacing isn't consistent either where it either moves at a snail's pace or at breakneck speed for short periods. As the series progresses, I think it may really be able to find its footing so I plan on keeping my eyes open for future installments.
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  • Christi M
    January 1, 1970
    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 changeeverything. 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, 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, while some live a half-existence.Three-years prior to the beginning of the story a local school hired Edmund Rye, a vampire, as a teacher. Before the Coda this wouldn’t have been possible, but now their race is so diminished it is acceptable. In the present, Edmund hasn’t shown up to school in a week leading the principal to reach out to Fetch to locate him.As is common to noir novels, the story is twisting and non-linear to a degree. But every turn the story takes gives us a chance to learn how devastating the Coda was on all the different magical creatures. However, unlike other noir books this story didn’t make me quite as dizzy as others have in the past, which I appreciated. I found myself able to keep up, which helped me truly appreciate the unique, rich world-building.Noir isn’t always my cup of tea, but in this case I was intrigued by Fetch and his history as well as the Coda. Even at the beginning I was curious to know if this magic draining was permanent or if it could be reversed in some way.Overall, a book that fans of noir, urban fantasy, or dark fantasy may want to take a look at.Thanks to Netgalley and Orbit Books for the advanced reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.
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  • Nadine
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 becomes formulaic.What I enjoyed most about The Last Smile in Sunder City was its gritty noir vibe. Readers get know Fetch and come to realize he’s not a black or white character. Fetch operates in the grey and has no problems doing so. Fetch’s investigation is also something else I really enjoyed, however Arnold spends more time developing his world than the actual mystery. So, by the end of the novel the mystery has barely moved and is then quickly resolved. Overall, The Last Smile in Sunder City is an interesting concept that fails in its execution by focusing too much on world building at the expense of the actual plot. The Last Smile in Sunder City is the first in a series, so I may be interested in reading the sequel since all the heavy lifting for the world building is already done.***I received an ARC via Netgalley for an honest review.
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  • Sheila Goicea
    January 1, 1970
    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
  • Kristen
    January 1, 1970
    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 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. That sort of thing.Fetch Phillips is a Man for Hire. He’s more or less a private detective. Or he does odd jobs. Whatever pays the bills, really. He’s pretty much at rock bottom, trying to atone for his part in the Coda, the event that destroyed the magic. He’s hired to find a Vampire who has gone missing, and as he investigates, he finds a whole bunch of shenanigans happening, and something that nobody can really explain.This book is told in first person from Fetch’s point of view, but follows two timelines to tell the entire story. First and foremost, we have the story presently happening, where Fetch is looking into the disappearance of a teacher (who happens to be a Vampire) from a local school. The second is the story of Fetch. Where he comes from, and more or less how he ended up where he ended up at the time of the Coda.I don’t always love it when present day story weaves with a past one in flashbacks, but I find that I didn’t mind so much here. It wasn’t confusing at all, and the narratives didn’t interrupt each other at very inopportune moments, as can happen with this sort of storytelling. I found that I was equally interested to see what happened in each side of the story, so that was very well done.It was well written and always kept me interested in the story. I liked Fetch as a character and I wanted to see him succeed in his task. Seeing how other characters interacted with him, knowing who and what he is, was interesting. There were a couple of really interesting background characters I really liked. Especially one named Baxter.All told, I quite liked it. This book has a host of interesting characters living in an interesting world, and I hope to explore more of it in the next volume!Thanks to the author, as well as Orbit via NetGalley for the review copy!
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  • Estefanía
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 the basic rules of the universe- the way magic once existed, its present absence, the devastating aftermath of all that happened before the novel's start. One of the novel's immediate strengths is it's setting. It's immersive. The world of Sunder City feels lived in, run down, and familiar- I think it's very easy to rely on genre to do your work for you and let your reader just fill in the blanks: "Magical world with magical creatures, I don't have to explain, you fill in the rest." That isn't the case here. As a reader, you get the sense that a lot of thought and effort has been put into crafting a universe for these characters to live and traverse through. The use of setting and repeated return to surroundings are a display of thoughtfulness, I think, which is one of the novel's real saving graces- I've never been one to care if a plot is 'slow'. I enjoy the wait, both in film and literature, if it's well crafted enough. It's probably fair to say that the central mystery in Sunder City isn't trying to reinvent the wheel. It doesn't have to. What kept me turning pages was my investment in the world that was being illustrated as the narrative carried on, my interest in what was lying in store for a jaded and broken world that- in some really great flashbacks especially- once seemed so much greater than when the reader finds it. The second and perhaps greater strength of the novel is its cast of characters. Fetch as a protagonist might not be everyone's idea of an entertaining hero- yes, there are qualities of the character that have been done within the noir/fantasy noir/sci-fi noir many times before. Still, the depth of the characters unhappiness, illustrated through unrelenting self-hatred in the narration, keep the protagonist from seeming too much like a caricature. The unhappiness seems genuine, instead of an easy appeal to the common tropes of the noir detective, and the character is authentically flawed. This is perhaps what I liked most about him, because it grants Fetch a lot of realism- in some pretty significant ways, he's an absolutely awful person. His relationship with one of the most significant female characters in the novel is, in my reading, troubled and suspect but the narration is so bound by his perspective that this is never out-rightly acknowledged and ... honestly? it probably shouldn't be. At least not yet. I think this is a good choice on the level of writing. Fetch just isn't self-aware enough, I think, and far too truncated in his own suffering for now, which makes me all the more invested in where his characterization might lead later. (You get the sense, too, that the novel's central mystery would've been solved far sooner if he didn't have such a knack for getting in his own way). It's easy to hand us the answers and make it very clear, in no uncertain terms, that Fetch's relationship with women (and one character in particular) is nothing to be admired- it's another thing to sit with the evidence of his issues and keep confirming them, keep revealing the degree to which Fetch can be an uncomfortable character to follow, and not absolve him of those problems by the novel's end. I'm curious to see if he'll ever be confronted on this in later installments. There's another moment, too, with a secondary character which reveals once more a potential prejudice- is this moment of division between the characters just shock and miscommunication or is the conflict also, if only partly, fueled by a bias Fetch wouldn't extend to a woman placing him in those same circumstances? The answer isn't clear. When it comes to fucked up people (and well written characters), the answer seldom is. Finally, I can't end this review without acknowledging Luke Arnold's use of secondary characters. This is where the novel most shines. Fetch is a significantly isolated and isolating character. Because he chooses to be alone throughout much of the novel, we aren't always met with secondary characters whom we return to later in the text- but the few figures who are the repeated subject of focus absolutely caught my interest. There's even a pretty comical, entertaining relationship between Fetch and another younger character that I think gives the novel some needed levity. The characters in Fetch's past, particularly, really stood out to me. I finished the novel and wanted to know more about them specifically. They caught my interest and I actively wanted to see more of them in the text, which is probably the best feeling you can have with characters you see through flashback- the use of flashback is actually one of my most common pet peeves in media. The fact that I genuinely enjoyed them in Sunder City was a real surprise to me and, more importantly, a relief- I think flashback narratives can too easily throw the pacing and clarity of a novel off balance. This book does it well. Overall, an entertaining read, a project that reveals a great amount of effort on the level of writing, and a solid introduction into a larger series and a fascinating world. I'm eager to see Fetch interact with other characters and find myself really wanting more women in the narrative, more inclusion- some good groundwork is really laid down here. There are foundations here to suggest those investments and I'm optimistic we'll see more of this. If the second installation of this series is going to surround the protagonist with more characters, I'm eager to see what lies in store. More than even my appreciation for the thoughtful use of setting, the author has a talent for crafting secondary character who, in my reading, stood out and kept my interest when it was clear they would be relevant to the plot. I want to see more of them. I want to see how much better rendered these secondary characters can be now that the introductions have been set and future installations might possibly have more room to flesh them out, give them space to breathe, act, and interact with the main character. Fingers crossed!
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  • Sean Morton
    January 1, 1970
    An exciting debut from Luke Arnold.From Long John Silver and Michael Hutchence Fame, Australian actor Luke Arnold has turned to writing with his urban fantasy novel The Last Smile in Sunder City. The magic is gone, and in the six years since various magical beings have had to come to terms with their changed bodies and minds. Fetch Phillips, a guilt ridden human, tries his best to make up for his mistakes by helping the denizens of Sunder City. So when a frail vampire goes missing, it is the An exciting debut from Luke Arnold.From Long John Silver and Michael Hutchence Fame, Australian actor Luke Arnold has turned to writing with his urban fantasy novel The Last Smile in Sunder City. The magic is gone, and in the six years since various magical beings have had to come to terms with their changed bodies and minds. Fetch Phillips, a guilt ridden human, tries his best to make up for his mistakes by helping the denizens of Sunder City. So when a frail vampire goes missing, it is the perfect opportunity for a new case. This was great. I loved Arnold's performance in Black Sails and it seems he has translated his talents to writing as well. His style is fun and easy to read, and he mixes current plot with backstory in an effective manner that is both informative but also has narrative payoffs. He paints an interesting cast of various characters, each with their own issues and flaws. The world-building is fun, and lays the foundation for a wider series of stories.I haven't read much urban fantasy, but I'm already starting to see a number of cliches in this book. While I like Fetch, he is the stereotypical flawed but affable functioning alcoholic with a dark past and a cocky attitude that is common of many anti-hero characters these days. His characterisation was good, but I'd like to see some different aspects to his personality if future books are written.At the end of the day a fun and entertaining read. If you're a fan of Ben Aaronovitch or James Bennett, I suggest picking this one up when it is released in February 2020.
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  • Jason Aycock
    January 1, 1970
    What do you do when you discover that Long John Silver has written a book? Not the actual literary character mind you, but the guy who played one so superbly on TV. You do everything you can to get a copy of it and read it is what you do! And the first question you ask yourself is can an actor write a good book? Well, let me say thisLuke Arnold has crafted a thrilling urban-noir fantasy debut dripping with melancholy and regret that explores the souls inner turmoil of living with bad decisions What do you do when you discover that Long John Silver has written a book? Not the actual literary character mind you, but the guy who played one so superbly on TV. You do everything you can to get a copy of it and read it is what you do! And the first question you ask yourself is “can an actor write a good book?” Well, let me say this…Luke Arnold has crafted a thrilling urban-noir fantasy debut dripping with melancholy and regret that explores the soul’s inner turmoil of living with bad decisions and their negative consequences. It’s part fantasy, part detective story, part redemption arc, and an all around good read.The down on their luck, hard boiled, self-narrated detective story isn’t new. Most of us probably think of classic films from the 40’s and 50’s popularized by actors like Humphry Bogart in The Maltese Falcon or The Big Sleep (think of the Philip Marlowe stories). You might even turn to slightly more modern films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit. If you’re a fantasy reader but you’ve not read the Marlowe shorts and books you may have become a fan of Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files, an urban fantasy series written from the perspective of wizard detective Harry Dresden set in Chicago. So how does one blaze a new trail off a well traveled path? Why you give it a wholly new fantasy setting.That’s what Luke Arnold has done with The Last Smile In Sunder City. This is an urban fantasy set in a completely new fantasy world. It is filled with all kinds of mythical and fantastical creatures. A world where humans once inhabited the bottom rungs of the social and political towers of power because they were the only ones without magic. That is until the day the magic disappeared and all the non-human creatures lost their powers. Their magic went away and some, like the elves who didn’t have magic to sustain their long lived lives began to grow old and die, or vampires who began to whither away now that blood wouldn’t sustain them. That event, referred to as The Coda has shaken up the world and one man blames himself for causing it…our narrator, Fetch Phillips.Fetch Phillips is like many noir detective characters. He’s disheveled, broke, drunk much of the time, struggles with his inner demons, is hooked on a particular drug (a painkiller chew called a Clayfield), and generally a pain in the ass to everyone who knows him. What’s different about Fetch is the reason for his state of affairs and the source of those personal demons; his role in bringing about the Coda and the fall of magic. What makes it worse is before the Coda he was friend and ally to the non-humans. He looks around and every horrible thing he sees with the world he lays at his own feet. It’s a tough burden to carry and Fetch hasn’t lifted it well.Though the book explores portions of the wider world the majority of the narrative is set in Sunder City, an industrialized urban landscape reminiscent of late 19th or early 20th century western cities. It’s hard to pin it down a time period exactly as there are factories, and motor vehicles, yet the inhabitants still use bows and arrows, and swords. It’s a city originally populated by dwarves, and goblins, and elves, and other magical fey creatures. These original inhabitants are still there struggling to cope with the loss of their powers. It’s a dark, dirty, hard and unfriendly place — at least the parts of town in which Fetch resides and works. And as you get to know Fetch and his story you come to realize Sunder City is a mirror into his own soul.The Last Smile In Sunder City is a first person narrative told from Fetch’s point of view. Arnold uses classic detective story tropes and elements to tell his tale. I’ve already alluded to some of them so I won’t go into a lot more detail. Just know that if you’ve seen a few of those classic detective movies or read the books you’ll feel quite at home with the writing style. It’s dark and gritty at times, self-deprecating, yet also very humorous. Arnold alternates between the present where Fetch is chasing down leads on a missing persons case, and the past in which Fetch recounts his own history from childhood to the present day. Now it does take some time for all of that to come together, and it took me a little while to really settle into what Arnold was doing with the pacing, but in the end it made sense.And while the present day detective story is gripping and will have you anxiously turning pages to see what happens next, it’s that alternate timeline delving into Fetch’s past that will set its hooks in you and give you the feels in the end. Because for Fetch, everything that is miserable in the world (not just with himself) is due to something he did. You know this from the start, but it’s the way it happens, the details of that past narrative that once you uncover the whole story will give you a case of the downers and have you pulling for Fetch not just to solve the case, but to come to terms with his past and present reality.And that’s what this book is. Beyond the surface level detective story within a fantasy setting, it’s a redemption story. The first line of the book, “‘Do some good,’ she’d said” sets the tone for all that comes. You don’t know just then who said it, but it’s what drives Fetch. It’s at odds with what you might expect in a novel like this where you want to cling to hope as a theme to get you through the narrative. As Fetch points out:“But give me a little hope and I’ll show you who I really am…The thing that kills us is the hope. Give a good man something to protect and you’ll turn him into a killer.”So it’s a story of trying to do good, to make up for ones sins in a scarred world without clinging to hope. How does one do that? How does one find redemption in such a place? It’s a question that makes the title even more poignant…what is/was The Last Smile In Sunder City; whose smile was it, and will it return? It’s a question that will follow you through the book to the very last page.The Last Smile In Sunder City isn’t your same old detective story. It isn’t just another fantasy tale either. It’s a wonderful blend of the two delivering a new and fresh take on each. Luke Arnold’s debut proves he’s a storyteller whose art is worth the price of admission.And I can’t wait for the next case in the Fetch Phillips Archives.I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.4 of 5 Stars
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  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this from Netgalley and the Publisher in exchange for my open and honest review.The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold is a fantasy novel about sin, redemption, and hope. The story follows a man-for-hire named Fetch Phillips. Fetch is a human working in a town full of mystical creatures. Humans are hated, and for a good reason. However, in a redemptive bid to atone for past sins, Fetch's job and his sole purpose in life are to help non-humans, usually in the form of PI I received a copy of this from Netgalley and the Publisher in exchange for my open and honest review.The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold is a fantasy novel about sin, redemption, and hope. The story follows a man-for-hire named Fetch Phillips. Fetch is a human working in a town full of mystical creatures. Humans are hated, and for a good reason. However, in a redemptive bid to atone for past sins, Fetch's job and his sole purpose in life are to help non-humans, usually in the form of PI work. Through this work, helping one creature at a time, Fetch seeks to help atone for the wrongdoings in his past, his greatest sin. His sin destroyed the world and magic with it. "A good man is made through a lifetime of work. Great men are made by their monsters."The world now no longer runs on magic. There used to be a great river of magic that flowed underground and seeped out to all the various creatures of the world. Thus, the world used to be full of magical creatures, mystical entities, as well as joy and pain. The world and the creatures in it had purpose and drive, glory, and beauty. Now that magic has been ripped from the world; it is a sad shadow of its former self. Magical creatures who used to stand tall and shimmer in the glory of the magic that infused them, are rotting. Dragons fall from the sky in dusty, scaled heaps. Trolls that had been made of as much soil as magic have stopped moving and ceased to exist. Elves that used to live forever, either fall to dust from rapid aging or now have to look mortality in the face as they know they are going to die. The day the magic stopped was the day that hope and the future inexorably changed. Magic was ripped from the world by jealous humans, and it is a sin that humanity will live with for the entirety of their existence. "I'd seen plenty of things break in my lifetime: bones, hearts, and promises. This woman was breaking right in front of me. I watched as she somehow vacated her own eyes. The waves of hatred lulled to nothing. The door closed."Now Fetch has been given a job, find a missing vampire. Vampires have been withering away to dust since the Coda(the day the magic stopped). However, this vampire is much beloved and missed by the magical community. Fetch's patron wants to know what happened to his friend. As Fetch delves deeper into the case, he discovers that the vampire might have disappeared due to something nefarious. It is Fetch's job to figure it out. Through a series of interactions, Fetch begins to piece together the timeline and what might have happened; things become so much bigger than a missing vampire. And, in doing so, maybe help find a small grain of piece for himself. Maybe give himself a little hope in this tortured and busted world. "He was three times my age and starting over. I don't think I ever got started in the first place."The story is told through a series of interactions, both now and in the past. These interactions in the past created Fetch in the present, and we slowly understand why. Arnold did a great job showing how different Fetch was before and after the Coda. Before the Coda, Fetch was wide-eyed and naive, dealing with his strange upbringing and marveling at this world full of monsters. After the Coda, Fetch is a broken man. He nurses a deep wound and is wracked with guilt that is slowly disintegrating him, much like vampires slowly sloughing away. There is a dark melancholy in the way that Arnold writes this story. Often when authors attempt to use this type of tone, it can come off as trite. Trite and pretentious, but Arnold used it as a means of showing the desperation of the situations that Fetch and by extension Sunder City are in, and it is a useful way of communicating it. The Last Smile in Sunder City is a sad Sam Spade type story, but underneath all that sadness is a small gem of hope. This hope allows the reader to feel something aside from the grief and inevitability at the destruction of magical life. At the beginning of the story, the little light of hope is seen flashing briefly in the characters from page to page. Always other characters than Fetch. Fetch is fully immersed in his mental anguish. But by the end, and through some excellent writing, hope the most elusive of emotions comes shining through for a few moments. Things might not be ok. Matter-a-fact, they probably won't be. But, there are things to be hopeful about. There are things to find a small bit of joy in even if it is something as little as a good cup of coffee. There are good things, and The Last Smile in Sunder City demonstrates that. It is a great read, sad at times, and hopeless, but it still propels the reader page to page with hope for the future. Arnold has demonstrated great skill in weaving an emotionally realistic tale, and I am looking forward to the next one. If you would like to read more of my reviews or various other bookish things please come by my blogat https://beforewegoblog.com/
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  • FanFiAddict
    January 1, 1970
    Rating: 7.5/10Thanks to Libro.fm, Hachette Audio, and the author for an advance listening copy of The Last Smile in Sunder City (The Fetch Phillips Archives #1) in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this ALC did not influence my thoughts or opinions.The Last Smile in Sunder City is a splendid debut; one that is a breath of stale air, grit, and blood in a city where the magic is all gone and the drinks cant come quick enough. What we end up with is an entertaining urban fantasy romp through Rating: 7.5/10Thanks to Libro.fm, Hachette Audio, and the author for an advance listening copy of The Last Smile in Sunder City (The Fetch Phillips Archives #1) in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this ALC did not influence my thoughts or opinions.The Last Smile in Sunder City is a splendid debut; one that is a breath of stale air, grit, and blood in a city where the magic is all gone and the drinks can’t come quick enough. What we end up with is an entertaining urban fantasy romp through crowded streets, empty taverns, and dark alleyways alongside a drunken, cynical PI for hire who is attempting to rectify his past mistakes. Arnold proves his chops with striking prose and impressive world-building; a world that I definitely am craving more of.As many of you probably already know, Arnold is a part of the 2020 New Voices campaign that the publisher has put together. Orbit started this last year with authors like Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan and Evan Winter, among several others, and I believe it is one of the best marketing tools to use for pushing out debut authors and those new to the imprint, especially for those outside of the book community. I’m sure you are also aware that Luke played Long John Silver in the STARZ TV series ‘Black Sails’. It is a series that I began watching in Season 1, moved, and didn’t pick back up, but is one that I will more than likely begin binging very soon after having read his debut.While TLSiSC won’t wow you with huge battles, intense magic systems, or massive street brawls (because let’s be honest, there aren’t any), the mystery surrounding our protagonist and Sunder City, the array of secondary characters who flow in and out of the story-line, and the overall world-building will keep you entertained as you attempt to unravel the whodunit. One thing I can say: you will more than likely not be a fan of Fetch because his redeemable qualities are few and far between. Yours would be too with a past like his, but at least he is trying. The author also writes the story across two different timelines, allowing you to see into Fetch’s past while also tagging along in the present. Having said that, I feel that his past could’ve been expanded upon, and maybe it will in future novels.I’d say Arnold’s debut is a great addition to the urban fantasy genre. If you are like me and enjoyed books like The Fifth Ward: First Watch by Dale Lucas, Titanshade by Dan Stout, or maybe even Chasing Embers by James Bennett, you’ll find a ton to enjoy here. Even if you aren’t a fan of urban fantasy, there are several elements that will appeal to you.
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  • keikii Eats Books
    January 1, 1970
    To read more of my reviews, check out my blog at keikii Eats Books! 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. To read more of my reviews, check out my blog at keikii Eats Books! 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. 
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  • Azrah
    January 1, 1970
    [This review can also be found on my BLOG]**I was gifted a copy by Orbit Books UK in exchange for an honest review**The Last Smile in Sunder City follows Fetch Phillips, a "Man for Hire" who spends his days doing the odd jobs for those who call upon his services. That is, as long as you're not human. You see Sunder City is a place where all sorts of magical creatures live - vampires, werewolves, witches, goblins, elves, fae... It was once a thriving place full of magic, but a few years prior an [This review can also be found on my BLOG]**I was gifted a copy by Orbit Books UK in exchange for an honest review**The Last Smile in Sunder City follows Fetch Phillips, a "Man for Hire" who spends his days doing the odd jobs for those who call upon his services. That is, as long as you're not human. You see Sunder City is a place where all sorts of magical creatures live - vampires, werewolves, witches, goblins, elves, fae... It was once a thriving place full of magic, but a few years prior an incident known as The Coda resulted in all magic disappearing from the world. In the blink of an eye magical folk lost their powers and in a lot of cases their immortality. Industries that ran on magic came to a halt. Now the city lives on in a state of bleakness and it holds humanity to blame.This book is on the short side and doesn’t involve as many action-heavy scenes as you might expect from a crime/fantasy mashup but I enjoyed it either way.Fetch Phillips’ situation in the story is his way of atoning for his former sins. His most recent case involves a missing vampire however, I feel like this storyline took a back seat for the most part. The ongoing happenings of the city collectively took centre stage and the book as a whole can be taken as Arnold introducing us to the world from his imagination. The narrative follows Fetch's day to day escapades and we really get to see how the diverse communities around him are faring post-Coda. A number of flashbacks are threaded in throughout, slowly feeding us in on the secrets and events of Fetch's past and I was captivated by the various details and history of the world. The storytelling overall is wonderfully immersive and entertaining however, does feel a bit info dumpy towards the beginning. Also though Arnold voiced him well, the most interesting part with regards to our cynical and quite often intoxicated protagonist is definitely his past.All in all, this was a great debut and the urban fantasy setting is refreshing, setting up a brilliant foundation for the future adventures of Fetch Phillips. I'm looking forward to reading them!Final Rating - 4/5 Stars
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  • Rachel Bridgeman
    January 1, 1970
    Hugest of thanks to the awesome Nazia at Orbit Books for my gifted review copy of 'The Last Smile In Sunder City' by Luke Arnold, which is hopefully the first in a series. As well as a cracking debut novel, it sets up the world of Archetellos so vividly that I want to go back there.Some kind of alchemy must be involved in the creation of a novel such as this, in just 316 pages Luke has managed to create an entire world, a mythology, a quest and a solid  central character in Fetch Phillips Hugest of thanks to the awesome Nazia at Orbit Books for my gifted review copy of 'The Last Smile In Sunder City' by Luke Arnold, which is hopefully the first in a series. As well as a cracking debut novel, it sets up the world of Archetellos so vividly that I want to go back there.Some kind of alchemy must be involved in the creation of a novel such as this, in just 316 pages Luke has managed to create an entire world, a mythology, a quest and a solid  central character in Fetch Phillips without overwhelming the reader.Fetch is a troubled man, living in Sunder City after the Coda, an event wherein humans basically ruined everything for the multiple species which inhabited this world. By trying to tap into the elemental force of magic, they crystalized the river which fed the world and thereby condemned the magical creatures living in it. Vampires for example, still live for 100's of years but dry up 'like old fruit' and disappear. Werewolves are stuck in mid transformation nightmare of a physical form. Giants, satyrs, amphibians are all suffering and it is all down to the humans, of which Fetch is one.He has set himself up as a private detective, solving missing people cases, finding lost items and so on, so when he is tasked by Principal Burbage to find a missing vampire teacher and librarian, this is a quest he should be able to solve. But when he stumbles on two bodies of vampires who have been murdered and a third unidentified creature, things take a turn for the decidedly darker.Enter the 'Nail Gang' as prime suspects-these reprehensible humans wait until a species has gotten close to exintinction and look to out the final 'nail in the coffin.'Straddling the world of magic which has come to mean so much to Fetch, the perennial orphan , and the world of humans, this is a mystery, a whodunnit, a tale of belonging, isolation and guilt writ large with a dark thread of humour running through its veins. Fetch is an intriguing character and the way that magical creatures are depicted is unlike anything I have read before. It's a read for anyone who likes urban fantasy , tinged with horror and a beating, mortal heart.More please!Luckily I won;t have to wait long, just until October 2020 when book 2, 'Dead Man In A Ditch' is released, hurray!!
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  • Joana Morais
    January 1, 1970
    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 “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 suicideCopy provided by Orbit and Netgally in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Tim Hicks
    January 1, 1970
    I'll make the usual allowance for this being a first novel. As others noted, now that the world-building and background are done, we can move ahead. Niven and others have done magic-going-away, but it's good to see someone try magic-suddenly-gone, although I can't quite buy the idea of magic as a river, and did I miss the answer to WHERE DID IT GO? Noir is OK I guess, the hard-drinking detective etc., but I'm more and more ready for a detective who's just a detective, goes around solving stuff I'll make the usual allowance for this being a first novel. As others noted, now that the world-building and background are done, we can move ahead. Niven and others have done magic-going-away, but it's good to see someone try magic-suddenly-gone, although I can't quite buy the idea of magic as a river, and did I miss the answer to WHERE DID IT GO? Noir is OK I guess, the hard-drinking detective etc., but I'm more and more ready for a detective who's just a detective, goes around solving stuff without rolling in the gutter and/or getting beaten up every chapter. Aaronovitch's Peter Grant, or maybe Stross's "Bob Howard."Nor does Our Hero need to be Noble about one thing despite being a Total Loser in everything else. Nor do 3/4 of the scenes have to be set in sleazy bars. It's all a bit tropey. The required snark is there, but it needs polish and doesn't seem to come naturally to the character. I could accept it as a guy who's trying to wear the Hard-Boiled Detective costume but is aware that it doesn't fit. Maybe someone needs to write a detective who's Brust's Paarfi or someone else who's a total misfit in the detectve mold. No, not Adrian Monk; closer to Poirot.I did like the big guy trying to run a restaurant and being very bad at it. More of that and this series has a chance.
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  • ✰ BJ's Book Blog ✰Janeane ✰
    January 1, 1970
    ARC received from Hachette Australia for an honest reviewI was excited to start reading The Last Smile In Sunder City after I read the blurb. It is not really a genre that I usually read, however I was intrigued.Unfortunately, the book did not hit the expectations that I had for it.It started off with a great noir feel to it, and I could kind of picture our main man Fetch Phillips walking the dystopian, post magic world in a trench coat, cigarette hanging from his mouth and a hat slouched over ARC received from Hachette Australia for an honest reviewI was excited to start reading The Last Smile In Sunder City after I read the blurb. It is not really a genre that I usually read, however I was intrigued.Unfortunately, the book did not hit the expectations that I had for it.It started off with a great noir feel to it, and I could kind of picture our main man Fetch Phillips walking the dystopian, post magic world in a trench coat, cigarette hanging from his mouth and a hat slouched over his face. Except that that would be too clean for Fetch lolI found myself skimming through patches of this book, particularly the flashback scenes. I was just completely disinterested in them.Also, I felt that there was just too much going on, too many people/beings brought into the story. What started as a missing person/being story turned into a confusing mish mash of different creatures that I was not sure all were required.And the the noir feel that I was enjoying just vanished.There was nothing at all I found about Fetch that made me want to like the man. The flashbacks ( that I did read right through) were all woe is me, everyone else is to blame for my life 0 gah. Just no Fetch!To me, this could have done with a big round of editing out the superfluous characters and a bit of streamlining, as the story did plod along, and at times I did contemplate not finishing it.
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