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All Urban Fantasy Coverage

Luke Arnold’s debut novel has both claws and fangs. The Last Smile in Sunder City introduces us to wily private investigator Fetch Phillips, seemingly a brazen and confident jack-of-all-trades, but a wounded and traumatized veteran at his core.

Fetch is a Human, a race despised and mistrusted due to their choices in the great civil war, in which they caused the Coda, a gruesome and disastrous event that stripped magical beings of their power. Sunder City is now a wreck of a town—poverty, corruption and seedy activity run rampant—and Fetch often finds himself on the wrong edge of the argument in whatever dive bar, brothel or slum he wanders through. Once brimming with magic and power, the city’s citizens are now crumbling (some of them quite literally) and losing their abilities, which range from flight to everlasting youth to the ability to healthily transform at every lunar cycle into a Were-canine or -feline.

But a flicker of hope for the now non-magical inhabitants of Sunder City is revealed when a new case concerning a vanished Vampire professor and his young Siren student leads Fetch to suspect that magic may be, somehow, returning. Fetch must grapple with the ghosts of his past—a failed romance with the love of his life and his guilt over his actions in the the war—to discover if the magic really is coming back, and at what unspeakable cost.

Arnold’s gothic-infused noir introduces mythological characters seamlessly and with just the right dash of dark humor, including an excitable Cyclops bartender, an ageless nonbinary demon historian, a snuffling Magum (wizard) principal and a sensual, egotistical Elf benefactor. Fast-paced, action-packed flashbacks reveal Fletch’s haunting backstory, and fleeting glimpses of emotions  humanize him in a land of monsters. The crafty detective-soldier stays ahead of the reader every step of the way, and unanticipated twists and turns down hallways of decrepit mansions and stacks of musty library archives turn the usual fairy tales of good and evil, maidens and monsters, on their heads as we slowly but surely uncover the secrets of Sunder City.

Luke Arnold’s debut novel has both claws and fangs. The Last Smile in Sunder City introduces us to the wily private investigator Fetch Phillips, seemingly a brazen and confident jack-of-all-trades, but at his core a wounded and traumatized war veteran.

Rune Saint John isn’t from a dying house: he’s from a dead one. Two decades ago, Rune’s fellow Atlanteans attacked the seat of his family’s power, destroying their court and leaving only Rune and his companion, Brand, behind. The two survived by becoming guns for hire, scrounging where they could and taking what jobs came their way. When Rune and Brand are saddled with caring for a teenager as a result of one of their odd jobs, their new charge Matthias is the least of their worries. Their latest employer, the Lord Tower, tasks them with finding the missing scion of House Justice, Addam Saint Nicholas, and their world is quickly turned upside down. As they search for Addam, they are pulled into a labyrinthine plot that threatens not just Addam’s life, but all of New Atlantis.

The Last Sun is K.D. Edwards’ debut novel, and if this first installment is any indication, her Tarot Sequence is going to be a breathtaking ride. A hard-boiled mystery told with breathtaking speed, The Last Sun is something unexpected in urban fantasy. Edwards forces readers into the not-quite-human narration of an Atlantean and insists we adapt. Other staples of the genre are set in well-known cities primarily inhabited by humans, like The Dresden Files’ Chicago or Neverwhere’s London. The Last Sun describes a city that is wholly new and utterly fascinating—a world alien from what we have come to expect from urban fantasy.

An easy criticism to make is that there is very little gender diversity within The Last Sun. The majority of the speech comes from men, and all of the action within the book is driven by men, with few exceptions. However, for all of its fights, high-speed chases and monsters rising from the grave, this story is as much about the many ways men express their love for one another as it is about the conflicts between them. There’s the protective love of the Companion Bond between Rune and Brand, Addam’s love for his brother Quinn, and Matthias’s teenage infatuation with Rune. In a genre that so often focuses on romantic love to the exclusion of all else, a book that manages to have so many non-romantic, complex and loving relationships between men is both revolutionary and long overdue.

Any fan of urban fantasy will enjoy this moving and sardonic magical mystery. Edwards has set up a fantastic ride—one that we can only hope will continue to surprise and delight in the second book in the series, The Hanged Man, which is due out next year.

Any fan of urban fantasy will enjoy this moving and sardonic magical mystery.

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