Review: One Foot in the Fade by Luke Arnold

 

Title: One Foot in the Fade {Fetch Philips Archives #3}

Author: Luke Arnold

Published: 26th April 2022, Orbit

Status: Read May 2022 courtesy Hachette/Netgalley

++++++++

My Thoughts:

“An Angel had fallen in Sunder City: bloody, broken, and the best thing to happen in seven long years.”

One Foot in the Fade, the third instalment of the Fetch Philips Archives fantasy series, from Luke Arnold, picks up about a year after Dead Man in a Ditch ended.

‘Man for Hire’ Fetch is as determined as ever to bring magic back to Sunder City, and rescue it from the grasp of industrialist, Niles. When an angel plummets to the ground at his feet, Fetch dares to hope that redemption may finally be within reach.

While mostly retaining the same noir tone of previous books, One Foot in the Fade leans more into adventure as Fetch, after catching a jewellery thief, sets out on a cross-country quest to claim a magical artifact, and save the world he broke. Accompanied by a librarian, a genie, a werewolf, and a young college student, Fetch encounters dragons, amalgams, crazed wizards, golems, and a Minotaur in pursuit of a crown hidden in a castle in Incava.

Convinced he has a real chance of rectifying his past mistake, Fetch seems to lose what little good sense he had. Already an anti-hero, Fetch steps closer to villainy, ignoring the means in favour of his ends. I was initially disappointed to see him lose ground made in previous novels, as Fetch, impulsive and abrasive at the best of times, becomes careless and sometimes cruel. Too caught up in his dream of magic returning, Fetch brushes over the harm he is doing until he’s forced to tally the cost of his actions.

This isn’t a series I’d recommend picking up midway as Arnold expands his world with each book, but more importantly, each story relies heavily on the character growth of Fetch.

With its entertaining mix of adventure, drama and dark humour, I enjoyed One Foot in the Fade. Though Arnold may have originally planned the Fetch Phillips Archives as a trilogy, I don’t think this is necessarily the last we will see of Fetch, a possibility hinted at in the last few pages.

++++++++

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Review: Dead Man in a Ditch by Luke Arnold

Title: Dead Man in a Ditch {The Fetch Phillips Archives #2}

Author: Luke Arnold

Published: 24th September 2020, Orbit

Status: Read September 2020 courtesy Hachette Australia

+++++++

My Thoughts:

“But Sunder City makes a few things without fail: hunger in winter, drunks at night and trouble all year round.”

Picking up a few months after The Last Smile of Sunder City ended, nothing much has changed for Fetch Phillips ‘Man For Hire’, but he is about to learn that his beloved adopted home, Sunder City, has been changing around him in Dead Man in a Ditch, the second urban fantasy novel from Luke Arnold.

When Fetch is asked by the police to examine a dead body in the Bluebird Lounge, and stunned to find the man has been killed with magic, since it’s been seven years since The Coda vanquished all magic from the world. Fletch believes the magic is lost forever, and he’s determined to prove it… but what if he’s wrong?

After establishing character and world building in the first novel, Dead Man in a Ditch has more action as Fetch moves between a variety of investigations, most of which lead him into trouble, from searching for an errant husband, to tracking the origins of a dangerous new machine, battling with a crazed unicorn, and hunting down a killer wizard. All roads eventually lead to a company looking to make their mark, and a battle to save the City.

That’s not say Arnold doesn’t continue developing both the world and his characters. New characters are introduced, most notably a grifting werecat named Linda Rosemary, but it’s the unexpected return of Fetch’s former mentor, Hendricks, that has the most impact on the plot. Suffering from the effects of Magic’s withdrawal Hendricks is not the man, in body or spirit, that Fetch remembers, putting the two on an inevitable collision course.

Though perhaps a little long, the story is fast paced, with an entertaining mix of drama and dark humour. The City, and Fetch, are still rather dirty and bleak but there is a little light breaking through.

An imaginative and enjoyable sequel, I’m looking forward to Fletch’s next adventures in Sunder City.

++++++

Available from Hachette Australia

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Review: The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold

Title: The Last Smile in Sunder City (The Fetch Phillips Archives #1}

Author: Luke Arnold

Published: January 28 2020, Orbit

Status: Read February 2020, courtesy Hachette Au

++++++

My Thoughts:

Imaginative and entertaining, The Last Smile in Sunder City is the first book in an urban fantasy series from debut novelist Luke Arnold.

“The magic had vanished and the world that magic had built was tearing itself apart…”

Six years ago, a war between The Humanitarian Army (representing the humans) and The Opus (representing the world’s magic creatures) destroyed magic. Known as The Coda, the event resulted in catastrophe in Sunder City. Without magic to sustain them, Elves rapidly aged and died, Were’s were left as half-transformed freaks, Vampires withered as they starved, while other creatures shed scales, or fur, or skin, and to the disadvantage of all, machinery and technology, once infused or forged with magic, stopped working. Arnold has created a bleak, gritty and imaginative world, with ‘Man For Hire’ Fletch Phillips at its center.

Fletch Phillips embodies the traits of a traditional noir P.I. in that he is a morose, down-on-his-luck, functional alcoholic who sleeps on a fold down bed in his dingy office. An orphan who lost his parents in horrific circumstances, Fletch once lived in a caring but closed community which he fled at eighteen to explore the wider world he half-remembered. He is terribly flawed, but not quite yet irredeemably, and I found him quite likeable. His journey from curious runaway teen, to guilt-ridden Man For Hire sporting three significant tattoo’s on his arm, is the subject of several flashbacks through the novel, which also eventually explains his role in the death of magic.

It’s not (metaphorically speaking) a blonde bombshell that walks into Fletch’s office to launch the story, it’s the headmaster of a local school searching for his friend and colleague – a centuries old, and ailing vampire. Fletch’s search leads him through the seedy streets of Sunder City, occasionally getting in they way of the police, (whom mostly despise him), and generally making more enemies than friends. I thought the mystery was fairly well plotted, though not particularly complex, and I would have preferred Fletch investigate more actively than he seemed to. I was also perhaps a little disappointed with the lack of action in the plot overall, but am prepared to forgive that given the need for Arnold to create the foundation of both the setting and character.

The Last Smile In Sunder City is a robust beginning to what I believe has the potential to be a popular fantasy series. I found it to be an easy and engaging read.

++++++

Available from Hachette Australia

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