The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold – Review

Cover- The Last Smile in Sunder City

Published: February 6, 2020

Publisher: Orbit Books

Series: The Fetch Phillips Archives #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 316 (Paperback)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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.

I ended up reading one downer book after another this time around, with The Last Smile in Sunder City right on the heels of The Whisper Man. The world in this book is richly detailed, but it’s quite depressing and it feels like the atmosphere’s covered in a layer of thick, gloomy smudge. On top of this, Fetch Phillips (our main character) just hates himself. 

The info dumps were huge. The world building was pretty cool and I loved the wide variety of supernatural beings. Also, it was doubly interesting because the supernatural beings are all slowly (or in some cases quickly) dying because those DARN HUMANS RUINED EVERYTHING. Sunder City used to be a metalworking hub but now it’s full of a bunch of depressed folk just trying to move on with their lives. And everyone hates Fetch Phillips. Including me. 

I thought this was a creative that touched really well on post-war trauma, grief, struggles etc. but I can’t say I really enjoyed reading this. There were some sections that were enjoyable, but the overall atmosphere is certainly dark and it deals with hard things. It’s a detective story on the surface but deep down it’s mostly about dealing with a past the main character regrets immensely and how he tries to make up for his mistakes in his day to day life. The struggle is real in this one.

This isn’t a book you should read if you want to feel good. It doesn’t make you feel good – it’s sad, I might have shed a tear and I just felt quite bad for Fetch (even though I didn’t really like him) and all the beings that were slowly being destroyed by the end of magic. There is a sequel slated to be released later this year and more than likely I’ll read it, though if I don’t like the next installment I’ll probably call it quits for this series.

Currently Reading: 2/3/20

Cover- The Last Smile in Sunder City

The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold
Let me just say again “THIS SOUNDS AWESOME”. Now, I’m not going into this with my head in the clouds. The early reviews are sitting around a 3.75 average rating but I’m expecting it to be snarky and interesting. Fingers crossed that it will be a 5 star read!

Cover- The Whisper Man

The Whisper Man by Alex North
I’m picking this up largely because this made Drew’s Top 20 Books of 2019 list and it sounds chilling. It sounds similar in plot to In the Woods by Tana French, which I read at the first of the year. Hope this bodes well for my continued foray into crime thrillers/mysteries!


Stacking the Shelves: 2/1/20

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly (or in my case monthly) meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and it’s all about sharing the books you’ve added to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. You can include books you buy in a physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts, and of course ebooks!

Received for Review:


The Shadow Saint by Gareth Hanrahan
As always, the folks at Orbit were kind to me this month! The Shadow Saint was pretty awesome and a review will be coming up in the next couple weeks.

The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso
YAY!!! More Melissa Caruso books set in the same world as her last series!! This time it’s set in Vaskandar and the main character is mage-marked with broken magic.  I’m so excited to start reading this. It will be published in June by Orbit.

The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold
This was one of my recent Waiting on Wednesday features. The synopsis was irresitible – private investigator to all things fantastical? Sign me up! Thanks to Orbit for the finished copy.

City of Stone and Silence by Django Wexler
Django Wexler is killin’ it with this series! Thanks to Tor Teen for the finished copy and stop by tomorrow to read my review!

Mazes of Power by Juliette Wade
A cavern city, brother against brother, and political power struggles! This book was right up my alley and the cover is super weird so I decided to give it a go. Many thanks to DAW for the finished copy.

The Kingdom of Liars by Nick Martell
The synopsis was cool, but the real selling point is that Brandon Sanderson blurb front and center. Thanks to Saga Press for the eARC.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
Here’s another recent WoW feature! I stumbled across this on Edelweiss shortly after that feature and downloaded it because I have no self control. Thanks to Flatiron Books!

Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha
Oh boy oh boy!! Mercenary Librarians! I picked this up on Edelweiss shortly after featuring it on my blog as well. Thanks to Tor Books for making the eARC available!

My Purchases:


Here we go – the recently acquired subscription box books! Eight Will Fall by Sarah Harian and Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco were in the December FairyLoot box. I was a little sad to cancel that one, but I can only handle so many YA books at one time. This really cool edition of Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim was in the January OwlCrate box I featured recently.

My recent audiobook purchases have kept things interesting throughout January. In the Woods was a welcome change of pace and you can check out my review HERE. Protect the Prince was a solid follow up and Steel was AWESOME. Can’t wait to share some more reviews in the coming weeks!

Waiting on Wednesday: The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming released you’re excited about!

Cover- The Last Smile in Sunder City

Carrying on with my detective/mystery themed reading list, this week I’m featuring The Last Smile in Sunder City. The main character is a detective for hire with a serious amount of guilt plaguing him… AND THAT’S JUST WHAT I GOT FROM THE SYNOPSIS. I think this sounds pretty cool and the author is actually an actor who starred in the pirate-y tv show Black Sails (never watched, but looks cool). This will be released February 6, 2020 from Orbit and I can’t wait!