The Last Smile in Sunder City – Book Review

The Fetch Phillips Archives (1)
By: Luke Arnold
Published on: February 25, 2020

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.


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.

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