Book review

Last smile in Sunder City

Book one in the Fetch Phillips series

Author : Luke Arnold

Publisher: Hachette

Genre :Urban(ish) Fanatsy

Image and blurb from amazon

I’m Fetch Phillips, just like it says on the window. There are three 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, it’s not the humans who need my help.
I just want one real case. One chance to do something good. Because it’s my fault the magic is never coming back.


Fetch Phillips, a human private investigator of sorts, who is trying to make a living in Sunder city. He is hired by the headteacher of a school for magical young ones, to find a teacher a former vampire who has gone missing. The teacher like all non-humans is struggling to come to terms with a new way of life since the Coda, a sudden event that led to magic disappearing from the world. Fetch takes the case but faces challenges from all directions, well, because he caused the Coda in the first place. Throw in a missing young siren, corrupt builders and a doomed love story and you have an urban fantasy with a unique take on a familiar story.

The good

I was hooked on this book from the first page with lines such as “I was still pulling complaints out of my ears with tweezers”.

The world of Archetellos is well described with a consistent feel to the magical creatures who have now lost their magic after an event called the Coda which was caused by humans who destroyed the source of magic. The Coda in the book is a major event that leads to seismic changes to the lives of magical creatures and how they have to learn to live as beings with no magic. The feelings of despair and anxiety have parallels in our world as we have to deal with life-changing events in the last century and more recently covid-19.

There are many magical beings that are familiar to all readers of fantasy but we see a different side to them such as ageing elves, vampires are no longer nourished by blood and werewolves stuck between their human and wolves. I really enjoyed the fact that humans and magical creatures were neither good nor bad but a mix of both.

The plot races along without a dull moment and Fetch does grow as a character but remains realistic. His actions are questionable and although he wants to redeem himself, he can’t help but put his needs first when it comes to Amari., the love of his life.

Fetch is the main character and the book revolves around him, but a few of the secondary characters such as Hendricks and Baxter interesting with varoius shades of grey. 

Fetch is a fascinating character, with the usual sarky tone of voice you would expect in a first-person urban fantasy but Fetch is not the usual hero. He is flawed and as is his decision making but you do empathise with him as a character trying to redeem himself but not doing a very good job of this. Flashbacks to his backstory are woven into the story and I like the fact these snippets just appeared instead of long, artificial conversations, I have seen in some other books.

The bad

Amari, Fetch’s lover is boring and a bit too perfect and while Fetch’s description of how much he loves her is touching, it doesn’t ring true given his actions in the past.

The ugly

Some people might find the plot thread around the missing child difficult.

 Any Cliffhangers?

No, The book resolves the main storyline with no unresolved subplots

Perfect for:

Fans of the Rivers of London ( Ben Aaronovitch) and Dresden Files (Jim Butcher).


 Five stars.

I can’t wait till to read the next book in the series Dead man in a ditch.

Check out the series review here