The Last Smile in Sunder City

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: Not set

Member Reviews

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book will be available on February 25th.

This book is noir-fantasy at its finest. It has all the trademarks of a good, gritty noir, with a dash of the fantastical thrown in for good measure. A hard-boiled P.I with a penchant for getting drunk? Check. A tragic backstory? Check. A talent for stirring up trouble and making everyone mad? Double check.

Fetch is an ex-soldier in a war that was basically humans vs. all things magical. He’s not proud of what he did during the war, or who it turned him into. He’s now a semi-talented P.I., who will take pretty much any case, as long as it pays and he’s not working for a human.

At the beginning of the book, he is hired to find a missing vampire, dead or, um…alive (?). Less dead? I honestly don’t know how to word that. Huh. Moving on. In Sunder City, either state of being is equally likely. Of course, things are brought to light that certain parties prefer stay hidden, and chaos ensues.

Now, on to the setting. Sunder City is a slum, but what a slum! The amount of detail the author put into it is astounding. I could easily picture the entire city, could hear rain drizzling, and could smell the “breakfast” being served at a certain restaurant.

Another thing I loved about the book is Fetch’s internal dialogue. It’s so deliciously old-school detective. He was perfect, the setting was perfect, the storyline was perfect. Basically, the entire book was phenomenal. The only beef I have: I have to wait to see what happens in the next book.

This one would be perfect for fans of the Dresden Files or Breaking Lore. I can’t recommend this one enough.
Was this review helpful?
Fetch Phillips is a familiar kind of detective. He drinks hard. He has no money. Most people want to punch him on sight. Above all, Fetch has a lot of past mistakes to atone for. Those mistakes are slowly revealed over the course of Luke Arnold’s wonderfully immersive novel, The Last Smile in Sunder City. But all that comes later. At the beginning of the novel, Fetch is hired to track down a missing vampire and he means to do his best in spite of his addictions, people trying to hit him, and a world that is collapsing in on itself due to the abrupt loss of magic that happened some years previously.

In the “present,” we watch Fetch talk to people who knew the missing vampire and dig up clues. The vampire is a well-respected teacher who, like the rest of his species, instantly aged and grew decrepit without magic to sustain him. Indeed, all of the other magical races are in similar straights. Fetch is only okay (physically at least) because he’s human. In a world without magic, humans are on the rise. It’s only through flashbacks that we find out why Fetch is so down on his own species—but I’m not going to give that away.

Fetch is a great character—this book is full of great characters—but what really attracted me to this story was the world that Arnold created. Actually, one could say that Arnold created two worlds. There’s the world the Fetch currently inhabits. Nothing except human-created machines work right. Everything magical is toast. Then there are the hints about the world before the magic went away. Fetch laments the beauty and wonder of that magical world. In the flashbacks, we see a young human who is in awe of what the elves and ogres and were-people and the fae and the rest can do. As I read, I was hoping that The Last Smile in Sunder City was building towards the restoration of magic. This part I will give away: this novel is the beginning of a series and the restoration of magic is not a simple thing that can be fixed in one book.

I inhaled The Last Smile in Sunder City. It’s so creative and so well done, with so much heart. I’m excited to recommend this book to other readers.
Was this review helpful?
Fetch Phillips is a man for hire in Sunder City, that just happens to stumble on a job that should be pretty open and shut.  Find a missing vampire, that also happens to be a much loved teacher at a new school where all people are together.  In the world after the Coda this is a bit unusual but this should be pretty straight forward right, wrong.  Fetch realizes very quickly that maybe this job is more than he bargained for.

This novel is the debut of Luke Arnold, who some may know from a little show called Black sails,.  Who knew this guy was a fan of urban fantasy as well.  This book contains all the usual suspects when it comes to the UF realms, you have vampires, werewolves, fae and many other things but theres one interesting change here, something called The Coda has happened and it has taken all of the magic out of the world.  So what does that mean for the people of this book, well now vampires can go in the sun, but their famous teeth also fall out, werewolves get trapped in some kind of hybrid of man and wolf and dryads freeze into trees.  Things are a mess and for some reason Fetch Phillips feels really responsible for the whole thing.

What I didnt like about this book:

Overall it wasnt a bad book, the one thing I felt like I didnt really gel with was that the book kind of wandered all over the place with the plot.  In the notes and the interview in the back of the book Arnold mentions that he was trying to make an old school hard boiled detective novel, and while I get that there was so much of this book that just seemed almost counter intuitive to the overall plot.  Even in the end when things sort of come together there were places where he spent a ton of time talking about something that really didnt have much to do with the story.  There are a lot of flashbacks in this book to both explain Phillips sense of guilt as well his PTSD but some of them seemed like a bit much.  I did enjoy the fact that they were told through his tattoos though.

What I did like about this book:

Arnold does a great job of building a new world with this book, by the end I did want to spend a bit more time here even if it maybe wasnt with Phillips himself as he wasnt a super likeable character overal, but the world and the things going on were interesting and I really want to know where they are going to go with the story in the future.

I also felt like Arnold did a great job of writing a character that wasnt meant to be your best friend, he had a lot of tragedy and a lot of mental issues most importantly his aforementioned PTSD.

Overall a decent first entry in an urban fantasy series.  Overall these types of books do tend to take a couple to get the background out of the way and on to the real story.

3.5 stars rounded to 4 for the review
Was this review helpful?
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!
Was this review helpful?
As a fan of Jim Butcher, and Kim Harrison, this book was right up my alley - film noir-esque characters with their own aspirations and histories, a developing universe with enough just enough grime to make the bright spots shine even more, and a plot that while semi-linear, has enough twists to give you that "a-ha" moment when the protagonist puts it all together.  Arnold did a great job fleshing out the world, leaving no doubt that this is a character and universe that he will continue exploring for years to come.
Was this review helpful?
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for an honest review. 

When I read the synopsis for this book I was instantly intrigued. I tend to like the mixture of fantasy and mystery, but had also been disappointed in the past. Sadly, I felt like I was disappointed once again. 'The Last Smile in Sunder City' reminded me a bit too much of the Dresden Files, complete with a human male P.I. that takes cases. The two differences I saw was that Fetch - the P.I. in this case - was a lot more self deprecating but somehow overly confident, and that magic, while no longer a reality in this world, was known to all. 

The one thing that I really liked about this book was that the world felt pretty damn real. Not in the sense that werewolves and elves exist, but that they all interacted with each other. It was a post magic world so every species was a lot more integrated than it used to. The missing person of this story, in which the mystery revolves around, was a vampire teacher who was in charge of children from all species. I also liked the flashbacks and how they were sprinkled in. At first I had no idea where they were headed, but it was soon clear that they would tell us what exactly this "Coda" was. 

I did not like how this book was organized, however. The pacing was way off for me. There was no sense to the time skips within the same chapter. He'd be at his house then at the diner, then across town. And at one point a natural disaster strikes but the next day he's back at the diner. I was very confused about where some things took place. Was Sunder supposed to be a gigantic city like L.A.? Where it can flood on one half but the other be completely fine? I also didn't know where things were located and found descriptions sorely lacking. There were quite a few tropes as well, which made the book drag and seem repetitive, like something I'd read before.
Was this review helpful?
I received a Copy through NetGalley for review.
I give this a 4.5. 

I have to say this was a really interesting book. The writing style and descriptions, wit and dry, dark humor, caught me from page one. And when you add on the over the top complex world building. It was really impressive. The narration of the main character, Fetch Phillips jumped out at me from the first page. Anything that can make me laugh when the character is in a terrible situation is a plus.

The story is less adventure from point a-b- than of Fetch's journey to how he ended up at this point in time, and why he has just so much to feel terrible about. Because he's almost single handedly responsible for the state of the current world. Devoid of magic and all its main, magical inhabitants cut off from their source of both immortality and power. All because humans had to try to conquer it.

Set in a version of a world where humans would be if they depended on magic to run things for almost their entire existence, where science as we know it doesn't exist. While culture and everything was modern probably beyond our own point in time (yes I mean you the reader in reality), but all those things they depended on for living, for industry to get around, heat their homes disappears all at once.

And everyone magic and mortal who survived the end of power has to and is still- adjusting to it. It's set six yours later. After what they call The Coda. The narration jumps back and forth, between the before, and now. Let you see how as time when on how The Coda happened. And the role Fetch had to play in it. And the bleak reality in the after, and the hope that people cling to- to keep going.

I wish it had been just a little more plot driven, it's the only reason I didn't give it 5 stars, and believe me it would have easily earned it. But this felt more like a prequel to a bigger story. To Fetch possibly redeeming himself, just a little bit. In-between the drinking, accidental brawls and pain sticks wedged between his teeth. I'm actually looking forward to seeing where this goes next. 

I really enjoyed this immensely.
Was this review helpful?
The Last Smile in Sunder City is a fantastic tale of a world trying to survive a tumultuous change caused by one segment of its population, whose envy and selfishness disrupted its balance. Fetch Phillips is a 'man for hire' scraping by to do some good despite the bleakness surrounds his every day life. A seemingly simple case of finding a missing professor leads to so much more.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this tale, which had just enough exposition sprinkled throughout to create a 'used universe' feel. Its characters were well developed and the first person perspective enhanced the sense of urgency in its pacing.  Fetch is an imperfect person, but one worth rooting for (even though he sometimes makes bad decisions).  

I look forward to reading more about this world.
Was this review helpful?
The Last Smile in Sunder City is about a a P.I. named Fetch, known troublemaker and drunk. After his world is depleted of magic and mythical creatures have to adapt to a new life, Fetch is left to pick up the pieces of his former life and the guilt of knowing he and the rest of the human race are to blame for so many lives ruined. When he's hired to find a missing teacher, a dying vampire, Fetch must come to terms with his guilt, the people he's let down and face an unknown enemy in order to find the vampire before it's too late. 

The plot had a lot of potential, but the main character just wasn't that likable. Despite his smart mouth, he's a rather dull character that lacked any development throughout the story. The pace of the book was rather slow. The amount of metaphors and similes in this book was ridiculous and seriously took away from the writing. Rather than just explaining what the author meant in more detail, an overkill of comparisons were used instead. I docked a whole star for that alone. The book had potential, but it just wasn't for me and I don't think I'd bother with the sequel.
Was this review helpful?
1950's private eye mixed with urban fantasy, The Last Smile in Sunder City is a wild ride from start to finish. Following the disappearance of magic, creature and magical beings must eek out a living while Fetch Philips, private detective, searches for a vanished vampire. With a compelling story and fascinating characters, this novel is perfect for the average mystery reader as well as fans of fantasy!

Thank you to Netgalley for providing an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
In a world where magic has disappeared, formerly supernatural beings struggle to survive and seek out potential places where magic might return, and everything that was once run by magic has stopped. It's a grim and gritty place to be, and protagonist Fetch Philips must dig into its seediest niches to track down a vampire he's been asked to find. The setting is unique and while the characters aren't the best-fleshed out I've ever read, they are interesting enough for this noir-style thriller. A good read for the overlap between dystopia fans and readers who love the urban paranormal.
Was this review helpful?
I received this book from Netgalley in exchange of an honest review.

Fetch Philipps is a detective, a man for hire and he's Human in a world where, until six years ago, magic was everywhere. Vampires, griphons, ogres, dragons and so on. Until Humans decided to try to conquer the magic and  in their failed attempt ruin everything. Now creatures that were magical are forced to adapt in a new world. With a complicated past, a former soldier and a guilty conscience, Fetch finds himself taking a case of a missing professor, a vampire. The reader follows him in Sunder city, getting to know magical clients and creatures, learning about his past and the city itself.

This book is a nice and interesting reading, even though I couldn't fully relate to the characters. The story is compelling, the set magical (no pun there) and captivating. Fetch is a complex character, tormented and multifaced. I found the writing a bit slow and I Wish the story would have been more developed, but overall I liked it.
Was this review helpful?
The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold, The premise had good potential however as a whole it failed to completely deliver. I do think some people will enjoy it though. Thank you for giving me a chance with this book.
Was this review helpful?
I picked up this book based on the recommendation that it was ideal for fans of Ben Aaronovitch and Jim Butcher. I'm a huge Aaronovitch fan, so I expected to find something I'd like here. I was the cover, that mimics those of Aaronvitch, and that was it. The work was far more in the Butcher camp, which is not an area of interest of mine (sorry, I know he's very popular but I've always found his work unpleasantly nerd bro in nature). I would recommend this work to Butcher fans for sure, or for anyone who likes a dark twist on urban fantasy.
Was this review helpful?