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Swashbucklers

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When Cisco Collins returns to his home town thirty years after saving it from being swallowed by a hell mouth opened by an ancient pirate ghost, he realises that being a childhood hero isn't like it was in the movies. Especially when nobody remembers the heroic bits - even the friends who once fought alongside him. Struggling with single parenting and treated as bit of a jok When Cisco Collins returns to his home town thirty years after saving it from being swallowed by a hell mouth opened by an ancient pirate ghost, he realises that being a childhood hero isn't like it was in the movies. Especially when nobody remembers the heroic bits - even the friends who once fought alongside him. Struggling with single parenting and treated as bit of a joke, Cisco isn't really in the Christmas spirit like everyone else. A fact that's made worse by the tendrils of the pirate's powers creeping back into our world and people beginning to die in bizarre ways. With the help of a talking fox, an enchanted forest, a long-lost friend haunting his dreams, and some 80s video game consoles turned into weapons, Cisco must now convince his friends to once again help him save the day. Yet they quickly discover that being a ghostbusting hero is so much easier when you don't have schools runs, parent evenings, and nativity plays to attend. And even in the middle of a supernatural battle, you always need to bring snacks and wipes...


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When Cisco Collins returns to his home town thirty years after saving it from being swallowed by a hell mouth opened by an ancient pirate ghost, he realises that being a childhood hero isn't like it was in the movies. Especially when nobody remembers the heroic bits - even the friends who once fought alongside him. Struggling with single parenting and treated as bit of a jok When Cisco Collins returns to his home town thirty years after saving it from being swallowed by a hell mouth opened by an ancient pirate ghost, he realises that being a childhood hero isn't like it was in the movies. Especially when nobody remembers the heroic bits - even the friends who once fought alongside him. Struggling with single parenting and treated as bit of a joke, Cisco isn't really in the Christmas spirit like everyone else. A fact that's made worse by the tendrils of the pirate's powers creeping back into our world and people beginning to die in bizarre ways. With the help of a talking fox, an enchanted forest, a long-lost friend haunting his dreams, and some 80s video game consoles turned into weapons, Cisco must now convince his friends to once again help him save the day. Yet they quickly discover that being a ghostbusting hero is so much easier when you don't have schools runs, parent evenings, and nativity plays to attend. And even in the middle of a supernatural battle, you always need to bring snacks and wipes...

30 review for Swashbucklers

  1. 5 out of 5

    Library of a Viking

    Swashbucklers is a fun, fast-paced and insane adventure! Swashbucklers follows the protagonist, Cisco Collins, as he returns to his Dark Peak after several decades. Cisco Collins left Dark Peak for good in 1989, when Cisco and three friends had to save the world from a pirate ghost called Deadman’s Grin. Although this shocking event had eyewitnesses, the authorities covered it up and called it a ‘gas leak’. However, there are signs that Deadman’s Grin might be returning, and Cisco and his three f Swashbucklers is a fun, fast-paced and insane adventure! Swashbucklers follows the protagonist, Cisco Collins, as he returns to his Dark Peak after several decades. Cisco Collins left Dark Peak for good in 1989, when Cisco and three friends had to save the world from a pirate ghost called Deadman’s Grin. Although this shocking event had eyewitnesses, the authorities covered it up and called it a ‘gas leak’. However, there are signs that Deadman’s Grin might be returning, and Cisco and his three friends are once again forced to face an unimaginable evil. There are two reasons why I decided to pick up this book. Firstly, the cover caught my attention a couple of months ago. It is such a phenomenal cover! Secondly, a reviewer that I highly trust, @NilsReviewsIt, loved this book, which made me interested in picking up this book. I was excited when I got an arc of this book sent to me. So what did I think about this book? The introduction of this book reminded me of reading It by Stephen King. We follow our main protagonist as he returns to the town where he grew up for the first time in decades. When he returns, all his friends have lost their memories of the Deadman’s Grin, but they slowly recover their memory as this same evil gradually resurfaces. If you have read It, then you can understand why this introduction reminded me of It. However, the story quickly takes on a turn and takes the plot in a crazy direction. It is remarkable seeing how this plot goes from a “friends reunion” to a “let’s fight a ghost pirate and save the world” in a matter of a couple of pages. Swashbucklers quickly becomes a bizarre, fun and action-packed ride, as our main cast struggle with remembering the past while simultaneously having have to deal with some absurd situations. When you think the plot can’t get any weirder, Dan Hanks introduces new elements to the story. Swashbucklers is chaotic but so addictive. I had to keep turning the pages because I had NO IDEA where the plot was going. Who would have thought that mixing modern-day Manchester and a pirate ghost would work? Dan Hanks deserves praise for crafting such a unique and creative story. Moreover, Dan Hanks nails the ending. One of my favourite aspects of Swashbucklers is how our main cast are forced to think about their children. Yes, there is a potential doom on its way, but the kids still have to go to school, get breakfast and go to bed. I love that Dan Hanks forces our characters to take care of their children while trying to save the world. However, I can’t recommend this book to all fantasy lovers. Firstly, Swashbucklers is very much a book that focuses on taking a reader on a rollercoaster journey. If you are looking for a book that focuses heavily on world-building or has a multi-layered plot, you won’t find it here. Moreover, since Swashbucklers is a relatively short standalone, the characters don’t have much depth. I would recommend Swashbucklers to readers looking for a book to read in between series or those who want to go on a crazy ride! After having finished this book, I am still not sure what I think about it. I had a great time going on this bizarre, action-packed adventure. On the other hand, the lack of character depth and the absurdity of this story made it difficult for me to get fully engaged in this book. Nonetheless, I am happy that I read this book! 3.5 / 5 stars Special thanks to Angry Robots for an arc in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chad

    Imagine if the kids from Stranger Things grew up while something made them forget about all their adventures. Then 30 years later all those monsters they fought came back now that they are in their forties with the added responsibilities of being a parent. That's the premise of this book. Cisco has just returned to Dark Peak with his 8-year old son in tow after reading about a bizarre murder. He's the only one that recalls some of the events of 30 years ago and thinks it's all starting up again. Imagine if the kids from Stranger Things grew up while something made them forget about all their adventures. Then 30 years later all those monsters they fought came back now that they are in their forties with the added responsibilities of being a parent. That's the premise of this book. Cisco has just returned to Dark Peak with his 8-year old son in tow after reading about a bizarre murder. He's the only one that recalls some of the events of 30 years ago and thinks it's all starting up again. I had a lot of fun with this. There's plenty of hijinks with these fortysomethings fighting monsters while needing to pick up their kids from school. I also liked how Hanks tied this in with other stories and myths. I loved how it was all connected. I will warn you that this is clearly set up for a sequel, so don't expect a hard resolution. received a review copy from Angry Robot and Edelweiss.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nils | nilsreviewsit

    ”He’d come back to Dark Peak wondering if he could recapture some of the old magic. Even hoping that the monsters would return so he could fight them again. Yet it turned out you could never go back to how it was. And now the nostalgia might actually kill him.” Swashbucklers is the upcoming novel by Dan Hanks, it’s a book I’ve known about for quite some time now, and it’s one I’ve been more than a little excited to read. This is Hanks' second novel, with the first being Captain Moxley and the Emb ”He’d come back to Dark Peak wondering if he could recapture some of the old magic. Even hoping that the monsters would return so he could fight them again. Yet it turned out you could never go back to how it was. And now the nostalgia might actually kill him.” Swashbucklers is the upcoming novel by Dan Hanks, it’s a book I’ve known about for quite some time now, and it’s one I’ve been more than a little excited to read. This is Hanks' second novel, with the first being Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire, which I read last year. Although both books are entirely unrelated, Hanks certainly has a distinctive style. I have found his stories to be such refreshing escapist reads. Hanks captures that same sense of adventure and thrill we get from those high-octane 80‘s action movies and transcribes it across the page. Swashbucklers begins with a mysterious murder, one which causes our main protagonist, Cisco Collins, to return with his son, George, to the town he once grew up in. Yet Dark Peak is no ordinary town, for in 1989 a supernatural event occurred, one which involved a pirate ghost called Deadman’s Grin, the gates of hell being opened, and where four young kids united to save the world. Over the years that event was covered up under the pretence of a gas leak, and those who spoke otherwise were mocked. With signs of history repeating itself, Cisco can no longer run away from his past, he remembers exactly what happened that night, and he is determined to make his friends see the truth and once again he knows they must save the world. If not them, then who else will? “They clinked glasses. A sparkling sound, almost magical in its melody. A musical chime that, to Cisco, in that moment, spoke of finally coming home. Because, he suddenly understood, as he took in all their faces, sometimes it wasn’t just about the place you returned to. Sometimes home was the people who were there to greet you.” Although this story is set in modern day with iPads, mobile phones and Twitter, the narrative simultaneously drips in 80’s nostalgia. From the first few chapters my mind made such strong connections with 80’s movies such as Ghostbusters and The Goonies, almost as though Swashbucklers is a sequel to both of those, with the kids reuniting in their adulthood to eradicate an evil they once believed long dead. Throughout the book I saw similar dynamics between the characters in Swashbucklers and the characters in Ghostbusters, for example in the way that the four friends, Cisco, Doc, Michelle and Jake, bantered, sniped or good naturedly mocked each other. Ghostbusters also entailed many of what I like to call, what the actual fuck, scenes, where the weirdest giant monsters terrorise the city, and Hanks to my delight, even nails that bizarreness too. I saw the adventure of The Goonies, with the gang always looking for clues and traps, and I even noticed the comedic cynicism found in films like The ‘Burbs where the older protagonists are seen as utterly ridiculous for still behaving like children. Furthermore I noticed several chapter titles were actual lines from movies too, which I found was a brilliant touch. I feel that the 80’s is an era which many of us look back on with fondness, not just the movies but also the games, toys, books and the animations, which were all hugely popular. I feel it’s why shows such as Stranger Things and Cobra Kai are so appealing as they offer a gateway into the past for those who still remember the era, and big props to Hanks for managing to reference both in this book! You could say I’m a bit of an 80s nerd, I grew up obsessively watching these films, falling in love with them every time, and so I was absolutely grinning through many chapters in Swashbucklers and took sheer delight in spotting all these homages which Hanks pays towards that era. Hanks beautifully captures the essence of nostalgia, the magic of one's childhood where the possibilities are endless, and then expresses the emptiness we feel when we lose that in adulthood. His characters show how the weight of responsibilities can pile up and adulthood can significantly take its toll. Although much of this is illustrated in jest, it was especially fun to see four adults in their forties battling monstrous evil whilst simultaneously juggling who will pick their kids up from school, Hanks does touch upon more poignant issues too. Although Doc, and her wife Michelle, Jake and his wife Natalie, have their lives in order, Cisco struggles under the strain of being a single father. At the beginning of the book Cisco appears weary, almost detached from his son, and rather overwhelmed. We clearly see that though parenting holds many joys, it can be an exhausting battle too. Cisco is a character I believe holds many regrets, who in reality wishes for a redo button, but doesn’t quite fully understand the cost of what he could lose were he to start over. “He was nestled in the heart of his childhood again, in the place he’d been struggling to reach most of his life. Everywhere he looked were long lost emotions. Breadcrumbs back in time, to those elusive moments in the past.” On a deeper level, Hanks brings to light how easy it is for our lives to fall into mundane routines which become so monotonous you stop appreciating the things you have, you lose that spark you once had, and you long to find it again. Hanks explores finding the balance between having fond memories of your childhood but also being rooted in the present. Whilst you can treasure who you once were, you can also learn to accept who you are now. I loved how the book explored the special bonds we make with friends in our childhood, and how we should hold dear the relationships which mean the most to us, but also that the enchantment we find in childhood doesn’t necessarily have to leave us. Writing or reading fantasy stories in itself is a major gateway into bringing alive the magic we once felt. I feel that is a significant theme in which Hanks explores, and I very much loved that sentiment. “These places were alive. They were living entities, filled with shadows and monsters and faeries and goodness and light and darkness and death. They were history. They were longing. They were love and fear and hope.” Throughout this book, I laughed at the bizarre and chaotic, I revelled in the many creepy possessed monsters, and I reminisced right along with all the characters. Swashbucklers brings all the magic of the 80’s back to life, and delivers a fun, action-packed tale with heart. ARC provided by Dan Hanks and Caroline at Angry Robot Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you both for the early copy! All quotes used are taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication. Swashbucklers is released 9th November but you can preorder it here: http://smarturl.it/swashbucklers

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)

    4.0 Stars This is an incredibly fun fantasy story that was heavily inspired by the tropes of the horror genre. While more fantastical than scary, this novel followed all the beats of horror story in the vein of IT or Stranger Things.  The tone of the novel was rather light and humorous. Normally I prefer darker story, but this cute narrative worked surprisingly well for me.  Admittedly, the plot was very predictable, since the author followed the traditional horror tropes so closely. I did not mind 4.0 Stars This is an incredibly fun fantasy story that was heavily inspired by the tropes of the horror genre. While more fantastical than scary, this novel followed all the beats of horror story in the vein of IT or Stranger Things.  The tone of the novel was rather light and humorous. Normally I prefer darker story, but this cute narrative worked surprisingly well for me.  Admittedly, the plot was very predictable, since the author followed the traditional horror tropes so closely. I did not mind because I was not looking for the book to reinvent the genre. Instead this was just an enjoyable nostalgic romp. The characters were quite likeable and the 1980s references were very enjoyable.  While technically a fantasy story, I would personally recommend this one to horror readers looking for a light, entertaining read to break up their disturbing horror books. Such a fun escapist read! Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Angry Robot Books. 

  5. 5 out of 5

    Laura Snider

    I'm a bit confused by this book. I get the whole overarching idea, but I kept wondering if it was a sequel. It kept referring to some other epic battle from when the characters were children, and there was a lot of time spent on background based on that previous battle. It made me super interested in what happened to the characters as children, but I wasn't all that invested in the story as it unfolded when they were adults. After reading the epilogue, I get the impression that book II in the se I'm a bit confused by this book. I get the whole overarching idea, but I kept wondering if it was a sequel. It kept referring to some other epic battle from when the characters were children, and there was a lot of time spent on background based on that previous battle. It made me super interested in what happened to the characters as children, but I wasn't all that invested in the story as it unfolded when they were adults. After reading the epilogue, I get the impression that book II in the series will tell the story of the children, but it all struck me as backward. Shouldn't the children's story been first? Then there is the overall issue of this evil pirate. I immediately understood that he was "bad," but I never could grasp what he wanted other than to be "bad." Which is super annoying - one of my pet peeves - because it isn't realistic. I wanted the pirate to have a reason for his desire to enter Earth's realm and kill lots of people. There was some discussion of runes and a special sword, but not enough for me to truly understand why the pirate needed these things so badly, and why killing lots of humans felt necessary for him to achieve that goal. It all just felt like a bunch of murder and mayhem with no cause. I also felt like the whole genre of the book was a bit confused. There was an 80's video game vibe, but also fairy tales, talking animals, and pirates thrown in there, too. And the magic didn't quite make sense to me either. The heroes just happened to have these magical game consoles that they for some reason could use as weapons. There was mention of the brainy kid creating the game consoles when they were children, but not how or why they worked. Overall, this book just felt like a mess to me. Like the author was trying to do too many things at once. It could have worked, maybe, but not in its current format and certainly not without first having the background of what had happened to them as children because I'm still completely confused about that.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chris Panatier

    With SWASHBUCKLERS, Dan Hanks puts forty year old characters in an action-packed fantastical story designed for the fitness level of teenagers and sees if they can keep up. They can't. And it's an awesome formula for fun. People talk about books that have heart. But Dan’s have more than that. And that's because Dan, willingly or not, puts himself on the page. There’s a weary kindness, a gentleness with which he treats his characters that comes through, makes you feel like there’s good in the worl With SWASHBUCKLERS, Dan Hanks puts forty year old characters in an action-packed fantastical story designed for the fitness level of teenagers and sees if they can keep up. They can't. And it's an awesome formula for fun. People talk about books that have heart. But Dan’s have more than that. And that's because Dan, willingly or not, puts himself on the page. There’s a weary kindness, a gentleness with which he treats his characters that comes through, makes you feel like there’s good in the world. All in a book where Christmas ornaments drop from the walls to become chest-bursters.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mogsy (MMOGC)

    3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2021/11/18/... Ah, Angry Robot, as ever living up to their mission of publishing the best in science fiction, fantasy, and WTF, and Swashbucklers is definitely one that belongs into the WTF category. This one sure threw me for a loop! To start, I was first drawn to the book because of its cover, so cleverly adorned with a video game controller in disguise, as well as its description which hinted vaguely at a sci-fi type adventure invol 3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2021/11/18/... Ah, Angry Robot, as ever living up to their mission of publishing the best in science fiction, fantasy, and WTF, and Swashbucklers is definitely one that belongs into the WTF category. This one sure threw me for a loop! To start, I was first drawn to the book because of its cover, so cleverly adorned with a video game controller in disguise, as well as its description which hinted vaguely at a sci-fi type adventure involving virtual worlds and the like. In reality though, it’s all that but also more. The story first begins with the return of our protagonist Cisco Collins to his hometown after many years away. Tagging along is his eight-year-old son George, who has no idea why the move is having such a strange effect on his father, and to be honest, neither really does Cisco. Many of his childhood memories have faded away, including those of the event that happened thirty-two years ago when he and his friends fought off an invasion by an evil magical pirate called Deadman’s Grin and his army of minions from another realm. After it was all over, though, in an attempt to explain the away the phenomenon, the town blamed a gas leak for causing mass hallucination and the whole situation was eventually swept under the rug. But now, some of the memories are returning to Cisco, which is why he has come home. A recent report in the news about a man killed by his child’s stuffed toy come to life has triggered something in his mind, and he’s not the only one. His best friends growing up—Jake, Doc, and Michelle—are also reminded of the enemy they had vanquished so long ago, and they fear the story of this bizarre death might be a sign of Deadman’s Grin’s reawakening. Still, they beat him once, they can do it again…right? Except now they are all several decades older, saddled with all the responsibilities that come with adulthood. Cisco himself is not in the best of health, and he has also his son to care for and to keep safe. Times have changed, so much that maybe even their old weapons and tricks will not be enough. The best descriptions I have seen for Swashbucklers are the ones that compare it to Stranger Things, except the kids have all grown up and are reunited for one more go at the big baddie. It sits somewhere in the overlap between sci-fi and fantasy, bringing a strange mishmash of horror and the paranormal, geeky pop culture references, laser guns and video games of 80s nostalgia, and for good measure, we even have a bit of Halloween and Christmas thrown in. Anyway, that’s all the good stuff. What didn’t work so well for me was the plot structure and pacing. Things also got weird, and to be fair, “weird” can be hit or miss. I very much enjoyed the intro and the first half of the book, which started out relatively linear and well-reasoned, but around midway, the story went off the rails a bit and started to lose me. Multiple flashbacks and switches in perspective also contributed to the confusion, but mostly I think my struggles were caused by the strangeness and surrealism, the almost phantasmagorical aspects of this novel. While more descriptive world-building may have helped, a lack of explanations and a failure to make certain connections left me feeling a bit untethered and disengaged. Fortunately, I loved the characters. The premise of old gang getting back together is one of my favorite tropes, and author did a superb job showing how the years have changed everyone—some of them in more drastic ways than others. Fatherhood has made Cisco reevaluate his priorities, and a big chunk of the book shows him being torn between the desire for the adventure and doing the right thing. Whenever I felt the story losing me, the characters’ personal narratives and conflicts always somehow pulled me back. Overall, a few stumbles aside, Swashbucklers was a good read and a nice surprise! A lot of quirky and a little crazy, this book would be perfect for readers who enjoy speculative fiction that doesn’t fit neatly into any category.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Schizanthus Nerd

    Nostalgia for the win! When they were kids, Cisco and his friends fought an 8-bit war against an evil pirate and saved the world. Cisco is the only one who remembers what really happened; for everyone else, a gas leak was responsible for the Halloween ‘89 mayhem. “Look, honey, that’s the bloke from the bedtime stories your mum tells you. The gas leak boy, I told you he was real!” Supernatural fans know ‘gas leak’ is code for ‘whatever it was, it sure as hell wasn’t a gas leak’. Now all grown up Nostalgia for the win! When they were kids, Cisco and his friends fought an 8-bit war against an evil pirate and saved the world. Cisco is the only one who remembers what really happened; for everyone else, a gas leak was responsible for the Halloween ‘89 mayhem. “Look, honey, that’s the bloke from the bedtime stories your mum tells you. The gas leak boy, I told you he was real!” Supernatural fans know ‘gas leak’ is code for ‘whatever it was, it sure as hell wasn’t a gas leak’. Now all grown up with children of their own, it’s time for the sequel because, as I’m sure you’re very well aware, sometimes the Big Bad doesn’t stay dead. Except it’s not quite as easy saving the world when your joints creak and you’re having to navigate the joys of parenthood while you’re dusting off your custom made game console weapons. It turns out that nostalgia can be deadly. “Why the hell did you decide that us four, ordinary, slightly unfit, middle-aged human nobodies could take on this momentous challenge again and get it right this time?” This is one of my favourite reads of the year and the perfect way to get you into the spirit for so many important holidays: Halloween, Christmas, Talk Like a Pirate Day… It’s also the movie I need to see. Outside of my head, that is. There’s a talking fox, a secret room behind a bookcase (be still my beating heart), enchanted forest (“Technically, all forests are enchanted-”), faeries that are bitey and priceless news headlines. Bizarre attack in Manchester as costumed cannibal snowman partially EATS homeowner. It was the Ghostbusters/Goonies mashup I never knew I needed and I loved every minute. I could almost hear the soundtrack playing during the action sequences. This may have been Cisco’s trip down memory lane but I felt like I grew up there too. “Bloody nostalgia” Thank you so much to NetGalley and Angry Robot for the opportunity to relive my childhood through this book. Blog - https://schizanthusnerd.com

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jordan (Jordy’s Book Club)

    QUICK TAKE: great idea, horrible execution. I had so much trouble with this one. I like the concept of the kids from Stranger Things 30 years later having to once again save their town from supernatural monsters, but this book is a mess. Bummer.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Toya (the reading chemist)

    3.5 stars. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went into this one, but I’m glad I took on chance anyways. This is the realistic side of being superheroes in your mid 40s that I didn’t know I needed. Here you seen the painful reality of fighting crime as a middle aged adult: needing to hire babysitters, the acid reflux and bubble gut aftermath of late night fast food, and HR calling you in to discuss your maxed out PTO. Most of the story I found to be engaging, and I enjoyed the ragtag cast of char 3.5 stars. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went into this one, but I’m glad I took on chance anyways. This is the realistic side of being superheroes in your mid 40s that I didn’t know I needed. Here you seen the painful reality of fighting crime as a middle aged adult: needing to hire babysitters, the acid reflux and bubble gut aftermath of late night fast food, and HR calling you in to discuss your maxed out PTO. Most of the story I found to be engaging, and I enjoyed the ragtag cast of characters. There were parts in the middle where the plot meandered a bit, but the pacing picks back up towards the end. Overall, a solid read. Thank you HighBridge Audio for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Scott - Book Invasion

    This was a pretty fun ride that mixed a lot of your favorite elements of Ready Player One, Goonies, Ghostbusters, Stranger Things, and that Adam Sandler Movie PIXELS. Humorous over-age reluctant heroes trying to unlock their childhood memories of their past antics coming together again in an epic battle of apparitions and animated lawn decorations! This was a great popcorn read. Just 'eye candy' for the reader with references and battles and all kinds of fun stuff. all the while trying to hide it This was a pretty fun ride that mixed a lot of your favorite elements of Ready Player One, Goonies, Ghostbusters, Stranger Things, and that Adam Sandler Movie PIXELS. Humorous over-age reluctant heroes trying to unlock their childhood memories of their past antics coming together again in an epic battle of apparitions and animated lawn decorations! This was a great popcorn read. Just 'eye candy' for the reader with references and battles and all kinds of fun stuff. all the while trying to hide it from their spouses! It was fun and i would recommend you check it out for that light 'palette-cleansing' sci-fi read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Roberta R. (Offbeat YA)

    Excerpt from my review - originally published at Offbeat YA. Pros: Funny and fresh take on the "band of accidental heroes saves the world" trope. Strong focus on friendship and lost childhood. Cons: Amidst the action, there are patches of telling-not-showing. Not all the characters are equally developed. The open ending might not sit well with everyone. Will appeal to: Those who are in for a fantasy quest steeped in '80s nostalgia, featuring a bunch of unlikely saviours...and a talking fox. First o Excerpt from my review - originally published at Offbeat YA. Pros: Funny and fresh take on the "band of accidental heroes saves the world" trope. Strong focus on friendship and lost childhood. Cons: Amidst the action, there are patches of telling-not-showing. Not all the characters are equally developed. The open ending might not sit well with everyone. Will appeal to: Those who are in for a fantasy quest steeped in '80s nostalgia, featuring a bunch of unlikely saviours...and a talking fox. First off...DISCLAIMER: I requested this title on NetGalley and Edelweiss, and got approved for it on both sites. Thanks to Angry Robot for providing an ecopy. This didn't influence my review in any way. RUSTED HEROES Swashbucklers does for adult fiction what the Wayward Children series does for YA: it looks at the aftermath of a "typical" kid/teen character experience (in this case, saving our world - and possibly other ones - from monsters). Except, in Hanks' standalone, thirty years have gone by since our Goonies-meet-Ghostbusters gang defeated evil, and these former child heroes (all but one) have forgotten everything about it...or better, have managed to convince themselves that their saving the world wasn't real to begin with (it doesn't help that the rest of their hometown has resolutely fallen into we-just-hallucinated-because-of-a-gas-leak camp ever since). Until shit hits the fan again, and as adults on the wrong side of forty, they find themselves unfit to fulfill their old saviour roles, yet they can't seem to have a choice (or, in Cisco's case, they ultimately welcome the new adventure with open, if a bit shaking, arms). It's a brilliant, subversive concept, and to the best of my knowledge, a totally original one. It lends itself to nostalgia and humour, and provides an insight into the changes (or lack thereof) that childhood friendships undergo in a few decades - all juicy ingredients for a story. [...] Whole review here.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Charity Solomon

    The cover to this on netgalley almost put me off of reading this I will not lie, but the description had me intrigued. And the one on here looks so much better Upon finishing this book immediately I looked to my significant other and was like "do you like Ghostbusters?" "Yeah" "Did you like that Pixel movie" "lol yeah" "And did you like Men in Black 3" "well yeah" "Then you need to read this book. It's about a guy who saves a town and comes back 30 years to do it again." And you don't really see mai The cover to this on netgalley almost put me off of reading this I will not lie, but the description had me intrigued. And the one on here looks so much better Upon finishing this book immediately I looked to my significant other and was like "do you like Ghostbusters?" "Yeah" "Did you like that Pixel movie" "lol yeah" "And did you like Men in Black 3" "well yeah" "Then you need to read this book. It's about a guy who saves a town and comes back 30 years to do it again." And you don't really see main characters that old and I was for it especially when they were talking about being out of shape and his body creaking. I felt that in my knees. I definitely was not ready for the candy cane scene but this book was just action action action and talking foxes and I was hear for it and I hope the ending means we get another one

  14. 4 out of 5

    Patricia A Jackson

    Saving an unsuspecting world from an ancient evil while navigating the tricky perils of parenthood! Dan Hanks’ Swashbucklers is literally a nostalgia-inducing, pop culture acid-trip where the hometown kids reunite as middle-aged Goonies to confront It with fabricated Ghostbuster gear and the help of a fantastical army from Narnia. Pack a day bag and don’t forget to bring the wipes!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Online Eccentric Librarian

    More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/ Swashbucklers is an odd mélange that somehow never coalesces into the promise of the blurb. Mix one part Ghostbusters, one part Goonies, and one part Stranger Things but set it in England with 40-something protagonists and you get the plot. But the joie de vivre of those movies is missing and the 1980s craziness is a memory rather than a set piece. The overall mood is somber and defeatist as our shlumpy main character More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/ Swashbucklers is an odd mélange that somehow never coalesces into the promise of the blurb. Mix one part Ghostbusters, one part Goonies, and one part Stranger Things but set it in England with 40-something protagonists and you get the plot. But the joie de vivre of those movies is missing and the 1980s craziness is a memory rather than a set piece. The overall mood is somber and defeatist as our shlumpy main character bumbles through the plot while feeling useless and old. Add in extremely heavy handed political commentary and you get a book that was difficult to plod through. Story: Cisco is at a crossroads in his life: his wife has run off with her fitness instructor and he's left alone with his young son George. When he gets word of a mysterious death at his old hometown, he sort of decides to return after 30 years. For Cisco is the only one who remembers battling a supernatural menace when he was a kid - a pirate named Deadman's Grin who could infuse inanimate objects and turn them into killing entities. As Cisco meets up with old friends, several of whom had helped him defeat the pirate in the past, they all slowly begin to remember the truth. At the same time, objects are coming to life again and beginning to rampage the town. Turns out, Deadman Grin may not be as dead as they thought..... This is very much a British tale - for better or worse. What we get is a very disenfranchised, disaffected, mopey, woe-is-me lead that is just miserable about life and everything. The only time Cisco gets emotive is when he is suddenly (and randomly) decrying political messages (not once but twice does he rail against current society, including "Brexit and the single term election of President ****face" and a monologue about "You're talking to three people that had to parent through a global pandemic. That witnessed moderately sane countries completely lose their **** and elect total ****** buffoons. Three people that has to live with the fact we've done *** all about the planet-killing society we inherited and can't get our act together to make it all better for the generations that follow us....while still finding time to binge watch Netflix. That's us. We lose every damn day and we're still here, ***********." I'm not sure where the humor was supposed to come in - because I never found any. If you find the above quote amusing and fun, then this is the book for you. I found the tone to be depressing - constant whinging about being older, not able to do things as when younger, having to take care of kids and make a living, how life sucks and then you die, pretty much. I know those passages were to counter point the past - when the team of "Swashbucklers" were young and fought the pirate with plenty of energy. But we don't get flash backs so that past is very distant. Thus, their inclusion was more of a writing construct - like the author felt it necessary to distance this book from the energy of The Goonies and even Ghostbusters. The 80s references pretty much ended up being a console game that was turned into magical guns, a la Ghostbusters proton packs. The author did not use real game names that I heard of and so that was the end of any 80s fun that could be had in the book. The distinct and quirky characters of Ghostbusters were jettisoned in favor of old and tired married people with kids. The glee and high spirits of The Goonies was markedly missing. Even the quirkiness of Stranger Things and the great 1980s references were missing. E.g., when the big bad is a pirate (with no explanation or reason why a pirate), the inside jokes and humor of e.g., a giant evil StayPuft marshmallow man are sorely and glaringly missing. None of the evil creatures that are created (scarecrows, angels, nativity scenes, etc.) have any resonance beyond being random. None of the heroes are distinct - no smart Egon, smarmy Venkman, heartfelt Ray - Just 4 Winstons looking on in confusion and inevitability. This feels very much like the author wrote himself into the main character. All 30-40 something confusion, self deprecating humor, frustration at life and society, and a twinge of nostalgia for the 1980s (which, ironically, also had a similar type of leadership as today). That pathos bleeds through the entirety of this every-man story but also robs it of the fun. The sarcasm is always seeming to be at his own expense (perhaps very British in that way) so that most of the time it feels destructive rather than amusing. There are several other cultural references that can be obliquely spotted as the story progresses. None are interjected in a way that adds any form of comic relief to the unremitting dreariness of characters and milieu. Even the romance feels tacked on and lackluster. Swashbucklers is by no means a bad book. The things I listed above may very well be positives to the right person. I just didn't find the promised humor, zeal, quirkiness, or fun. And I became very tired of being hit over the head with the author's political soapboxing (which is ironic because I agree with them). Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Charles McGonigal

    Ever wonder how a book can finish in the pages left, only to have the author stick the landing in a most impressive way? This is not that book. The lighter reimagining of Stephen King's It sprinkled with fun 80s references is a fine ride until the end finds a fortunately uncommon mixture of deus ex machina and open-endedness. Anyway, that was a waste of time. Ever wonder how a book can finish in the pages left, only to have the author stick the landing in a most impressive way? This is not that book. The lighter reimagining of Stephen King's It sprinkled with fun 80s references is a fine ride until the end finds a fortunately uncommon mixture of deus ex machina and open-endedness. Anyway, that was a waste of time.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    I wasn’t sure what to expect with Swashbucklers by Dan Hanks. On surface it looked like a fun Ghostbusters type adventure. A man comes back to his old hometown where supernatural events had occurred when he was young. He and his friends had to deal with them. The events were largely forgotten by everyone. Or pushed to the side as something that was blown out of proportion. He’s the only one that really remembers. All of the friends are now married with children, which lends a new dynamic when th I wasn’t sure what to expect with Swashbucklers by Dan Hanks. On surface it looked like a fun Ghostbusters type adventure. A man comes back to his old hometown where supernatural events had occurred when he was young. He and his friends had to deal with them. The events were largely forgotten by everyone. Or pushed to the side as something that was blown out of proportion. He’s the only one that really remembers. All of the friends are now married with children, which lends a new dynamic when that ancient entity from the past begins to stir again. In parts this book seems to be an homage to many things. Monster movies. Childhood flights of fancy. The rigors of parenthood. The book moved at a good pace with very little lag time. The heroes fought quite a few bad guys, but it never seemed that the author was throwing them in to pad the book. If shows like Ghostbusters, The Goonies and Stranger Things are your jam, then this is a book you should check out. After two stellar books from this new(ish) author, I’m definitely looking forward to his next one. In closing, I’d just like to give a shoutout to the cover artist, Karen Smith. The cover is excellent and compliments the story.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

    3.5/5 stars The nitty-gritty: Dan Hanks blends 80s nostalgia, portal fantasy and parenthood in this fun romp/quest to save the world. Swashbucklers was a lot of crazy fun, and I do mean crazy—think Ghostbusters meets Stranger Things. Dan Hanks does a good job of combining humor, action and nostalgia, and he even tugged on my heartstrings a couple of times with his commentary about parenting and leaving childhood behind. Yes, I had a few issues with the story, which I’ll elaborate on below, but ove 3.5/5 stars The nitty-gritty: Dan Hanks blends 80s nostalgia, portal fantasy and parenthood in this fun romp/quest to save the world. Swashbucklers was a lot of crazy fun, and I do mean crazy—think Ghostbusters meets Stranger Things. Dan Hanks does a good job of combining humor, action and nostalgia, and he even tugged on my heartstrings a couple of times with his commentary about parenting and leaving childhood behind. Yes, I had a few issues with the story, which I’ll elaborate on below, but overall I’m glad I had a chance to read what appears to be the first book in a series (although it isn’t listed on Goodreads as such). Thirty-two years ago on Halloween, Cisco Collins and his best friends battled and triumphed over an evil, magical pirate named Deadman’s Grin. Despite the fact that everyone in town witnessed the impossible event, it was waved off as a “gas leak” which caused mass hallucinations. Now Cisco has returned with his eight-year-old son George in tow to revisit the town of his childhood. In the intervening years, Cisco’s memories of the terrible event have faded, but lately he’s been remembering things again, and when a bizarre murder occurs—a man killed by a child’s stuffed toy come to life—Cisco knows that the past has come back to haunt him. Rallying his best friends from childhood—Jake, Doc and Michelle—Cisco convinces them that the evil has returned, and that they are being called upon to fight Deadman’s Grin once more. With the help of a magical talking fox named Tabitha, Cisco and his friends embark on a perilous and surreal journey, to find the source of the evil and stop it before it can destroy not just their world, but a multitude of universes that are connected by magic. But they aren’t children anymore, and the pressures and responsibilities of adulthood—not to mention all the aches and pains of growing old—are making this adventure much harder than the last. If you love 80s nostalgia—the movies, the TV shows, the video games, etc—you’ll have a lot of fun with this too. Hanks does a great job of evoking Cisco’s love of his childhood days as he shares those memories with his friends. Even better, Doc’s father was a collector of 80s memorabilia, and his entire collection now rests in a secret room in Jake’s home, including the “weapons” that the four used to defeat the pirate many years ago, old 8-bit game consoles complete with toy blasters that magically work just when they need them most. The story feels mostly like fantasy/horror, as toys come to life and try to kill Cisco and his friends. But there’s actually a nice genre mash-up of fantasy, mythology and sci-fi later in the story, as Hanks introduces a multiverse of sorts, where different worlds lie beyond magical doors. Some of my favorite parts in the book involved the characters moving between worlds, almost like changing scenes in a video game, and I thought it was creative and well done. There are some fun action scenes, and one in particular, involving a rampaging giant Father Christmas, evoked the famous Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters. I really enjoyed the humor, especially when it’s at the expense of Cisco, who is “the wrong side of forty-five” and just doesn’t have the stamina he had as a kid. Hanks does dialog really well, and I liked the relationships among the main characters, who bicker a lot but also have that special fondness and love for each other that comes from deep childhood friendships. All four characters have children as well, so that’s another bond they share.  I do have a few negatives, though. My biggest issue with Swashbucklers is that we are never really told what happened on Halloween all those years ago. The characters refer to the incident in vague terms, and we get a few clues about a portal opening in the school gym, but that’s about it. In order for the stakes to be higher, I would have liked to know the details of the 1989 event. Showing flashbacks in alternating chapters would have been a great way to make the plot more interesting, as well as give us more insight into the characters’ childhood lives. Without this information, the fight in the present day doesn’t really make sense. Why did Deadman’s Grin come back to life? Why now, after the kids have grown up and had children of their own? It was a missed opportunity, in my opinion, and would have made for a richer story. And speaking of kids, I was a little baffled as to why Cisco’s son George and the other’s kids were even in the story, other than to show that life has moved on and now the characters are all grown up and (reluctantly) adulting. Cisco is clearly torn between his desire to relive his youth and vanquish the evil pirate and be a good father to George. Unfortunately for poor George, he ultimately dumps him on other people while he goes off on his adventures. Jake’s wife Natalie seemed to be in the story for the sole purpose of acting as babysitter to the kids, conveniently available anytime Cisco and the others needed to drop everything and go fight evil. I was also confused by George’s age. I believe he’s eight, but Cisco is constantly picking him up and carrying him around. It made George feel more like a two year old than a curious boy of eight who is, um, too old to be carried. I’m assuming the story takes place in the present day, since the author mentions the “pandemic,” but honestly it was a little jarring to hear about Covid-19 in the middle of what is really a fantasy tale. Hanks also brings up current events like Brexit and the uneasy political landscape of U.S. politics, but I didn’t feel like any of this grandstanding was necessary. There’s a lot of fun to be had in Swashbucklers, and these serious, real life moments felt out of place. The pace picks up in the last fifty pages or so, and the sequence of events become slightly scattered and over-the-top, but I loved the Epilogue, which gives readers a hint of more to come. It was a very clever way to end the story, and I’m so curious to see if there’s going to be a sequel. Despite some rough spots, I had a lot of fun with Swashbucklers, and I look forward to reading more from Dan Hanks. Big thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy. 

  19. 4 out of 5

    Beth Cato

    I received an advance copy of this book via Netgalley. Swashbucklers is a fun romp--a stop-the-apocalypse book about a group of old friends who saved the world from a demonic pirate when they were kids, and now must do so again as adults. And hey, everything is harder when you're in your 40s. Knees pop. There are jobs to negotiate, kids with school schedules. When things are display Santa Clauses and scarecrows come to life and try to kill you and everyone else, that complicates things even more. I received an advance copy of this book via Netgalley. Swashbucklers is a fun romp--a stop-the-apocalypse book about a group of old friends who saved the world from a demonic pirate when they were kids, and now must do so again as adults. And hey, everything is harder when you're in your 40s. Knees pop. There are jobs to negotiate, kids with school schedules. When things are display Santa Clauses and scarecrows come to life and try to kill you and everyone else, that complicates things even more. Good thing those video game blasters with a genuine magical oomph still work. This book is written for someone my age. Hi, I'm 41, and I get most all the cultural references in this book. It's like a Stranger Things nostalgia trip, but for the geekier set. There were some things that threw me, though. It was awfully convenient that three of the four heroes lost their memories of what they did as kids, and had to rediscover everything as they went along. Some of the plot elements like that felt rather forced. Even so, the book is a lot of fun.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Traveling Cloak

    Swashbucklers is the latest release by author Dan Hanks (also known for Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire). It is billed as a nostalgic 80’s video game action adventure story. If that is purely what you are looking for, I would say this book accomplishes that task. The best aspect of this book, for me, at least, was the fact that it was nonstop action. There are very few scenes where the characters are sitting and talking and/or relaxing, as the crazy characters and battles just keep r Swashbucklers is the latest release by author Dan Hanks (also known for Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire). It is billed as a nostalgic 80’s video game action adventure story. If that is purely what you are looking for, I would say this book accomplishes that task. The best aspect of this book, for me, at least, was the fact that it was nonstop action. There are very few scenes where the characters are sitting and talking and/or relaxing, as the crazy characters and battles just keep rolling. And, obviously, the characters feel it, too. It is well-noted that most of them are in their 40’s and having trouble keeping up with all of the physical activity. They are wore down mentally, as well, as the constancy of their adult lives (work, spouses, children, etc) takes its toll. It was an interesting and fun way to approach a novel such as this. Oddly enough, though, I had trouble connecting with the characters, and that is a big part of whether or not I enjoyed a book to its fullest. This surprised me, because I could be any one of these characters: 40 years old, married, kids, a job, living in the suburbs, plays video games. I fit into many of these categories, and logically, one would think that would be an advantage to the story; but, I think, in the end, it was a disadvantage. It was too easy for me to disagree with decisions and judgments. Because of that, it was difficult for me to build attachments with the characters and care that much about how things ended up for them. There is also this idea of the book being a nostalgist throwback to the 80’s. For the characters it certainly was, but that was not the case for me. There were many 80’s pop culture references, but I did not get most of them. I came in expecting something in the vein of Ready Player One, but this book is more Ghostbusters meets Jumanji. Which, as a matter of fact, does not sound all that bad, actually. It is all in the execution, and this one did not hit with me. In addition to the nonstop action, I did like some of the risks the author took. This book is anything but standard, and I can really appreciate that as a reader. I especially loved the way the book ended, which, in my opinion, definitely falls into the category of “unexpected”. Honestly, if you decide to pick up this book, read it for that reason alone. All in all, while Swashbucklers did not exactly knock my socks off, it is definitely worth a read. I wish I connected better with it, but if you are looking for something where everything is constantly moving and the story is rather quirky, I would recommend giving it a shot.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Permanently_Booked

    Welcome to #CoffeeAndCurrentlyTouring with the killer team at Angry Robot Books! I have been consumed (when not overworking) with the upcoming release of Swashbucklers by Dan Hanks. If you are a fan of Ghostbusters, The Goonies and even Stranger Things I have a feeling this will be the book you’ve been waiting for. In a way it even gives me John Dies at the End vibes with the action-packed goriness that flies across the pages. Ya’ll know I love that stuff like a sugar-holic loves a bakery! I don’ Welcome to #CoffeeAndCurrentlyTouring with the killer team at Angry Robot Books! I have been consumed (when not overworking) with the upcoming release of Swashbucklers by Dan Hanks. If you are a fan of Ghostbusters, The Goonies and even Stranger Things I have a feeling this will be the book you’ve been waiting for. In a way it even gives me John Dies at the End vibes with the action-packed goriness that flies across the pages. Ya’ll know I love that stuff like a sugar-holic loves a bakery! I don’t want to waste your time rehashing the plot (because honestly it says everything you need to know in the synopsis), so I’ll focus on the even more exciting aspects. The 80s nostalgia is reminiscent of Ready Player One but not overly done and not over-exaggerated. It fit the story perfectly and had me reminiscing. Ok let’s be honest… it made me realize how old I am, lol. Whatever, we ‘80s babies freaking rock! The characters are awesome. Just freaking awesome. It’s like every paranormal fighting squad you have come to love. It’s like the Goonies, the Ghostbusters, the clown fighting IT squad… hell, throw in Scooby-Doo if you want too. I loved this gang and I adored that they were adults too. They brought banter, realistic adulting woes and more to the pages. Easy to connect to and chuckle along with. I have a close bookish friend who read this too, and I totally agree that I would’ve loved a prequel that went into their encounter with Deadman’s Grin. Lastly, if you love audiobooks I would definitely recommend the audio as well. HighBridge Audio did a wonderful drive pairing the narrator with the characters for this novel. I loved the accent, humorous tone and variation on character persona. I really don’t want to give too much away. This is one of the best crazy, chaotic and absurd rides I have been on. The real-life duties of parenthood, talking foxes, evil forces, killer… well… I’ll let you find out… It was the wildly fun ride that I needed in my own chaotic life. Add this to our TBR, plop this in your book cart and get ready folks. Releasing November 9th! Thank you Angry Robot Books for the gifted ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All thoughts are my own! True rating 4.5/5.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sasan

    Had very high expectations for this one, that I don't believe were met as well as they could have. I have received this book in exchange of an honest review, thank you to NetGalley and Angry Robot for the opportunity. I have my own blog now, so please do give it a visit if you're interested in my other reviews :) ────────────────── Earlier this year, I read the author's Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire, which I ended up enjoying a lot. Therefore, it was a little too hard for me to keep Had very high expectations for this one, that I don't believe were met as well as they could have. I have received this book in exchange of an honest review, thank you to NetGalley and Angry Robot for the opportunity. I have my own blog now, so please do give it a visit if you're interested in my other reviews :) ────────────────── Earlier this year, I read the author's Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire, which I ended up enjoying a lot. Therefore, it was a little too hard for me to keep my own expectations of this book to more reasonable degrees before starting it. I, of course, don't say that because there are no redeeming qualities to this book, oh no, it was just too messy for me to enjoy. At the basic level, or rather, if someone asks me to describe this book in a way that will encompass all that's in it, in my humble opinion that is, it's pretty easy to say that: "It's Stranger Things, with a bigger felt feel of Ghostbusters and it has middle aged protagonists instead, with Dustin as the main character. Oh yeah, also no one remembers anything but him" Does this sound entertaining? Hell, yes. Was it as entertaining as expected? Not quite, although I did enjoy myself until about a third of it. I'm actually struggling to start this review in earnest because I truly think it's got the makings of a great book, but like how I felt when reading The Jasmine Throne a few months ago, which is another book that has a core of brilliant elements; the execution doesn't quite bring it home for me. In Swashbucklers, the main adventure is already done and Cisco is the only one who remembers what happened, which leaves a big gap that needs to be filled before I even begin with the story. This in itself is not a problem. Yes, I would have appreciated if I got to see that story first, but the danger feel to the world because the big villain is almost back again, could make it enough for me not to bother with that missing bit of information. But, the pacing of the book makes ignoring this very difficult for me. There is this big show of a discussion where even a battle might occur, before the gang just shifts back to being parents and going to school meets ups before the next event comes up. The monster of the week format, might have worked a little bit better if I wasn't constantly needed to be reminded how much of a problem that pirate was going to be if he truly makes it back to the world, and see that go nowhere until the final bit of the book. I do understand the need to make use of this format to see Cisco reconnect with the elements of his life after 30 years, but this just killed the tension for me and left me hoping that there was a better sequence to follow here than this back and forth. Even that, I was willing to ignore, but the reveals of the world or rather, how things are being explained, are done because the plot demanded that it needs to be done now. Not because, there is a huge problem with a possible fatal outcome, where I need my previous heroes who remember nothing to actually be equipped with all the knowledge to save the world again. I mean why? The battles and action parts themselves, were pretty interesting and it was even more so when the things in the world created by Dan Hanks felt like they're apart of a retelling of sorts. Maybe that's not the way to put it exactly, but seeing what I consider possible traces of Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland got me excited. Which makes it even more of a shame, that it didn't have the great payoff I needed for the most part. That ending definitely didn't help with that either. When it comes to the characters, I will say that they aren't as fleshed out as they might have been if I was there from the start, which in turn, is understandable given the format. Cisco though, does get the bigger focus of the lot and he's not someone I cared all that much about, in his case, I cared more about his neglected son a lot more than him. The book talks about navigating parenthood with this looming problem, but I disagree and actually think it's more on the misleading side as well. Since the times Cisco was actually trying to be a parent, could be counted on one hand and I'll still have some fingers left. I mentioned before starting the review that there are redeeming qualities to the book, and I still firmly believe that... even if my review isn't exactly showing much of that. The action was fun, the British humour is there for those who enjoy it, there are instances of parental struggle, there are slice of life moments, a wacky paranormal side, there is danger and there are instances of growth. My issue here is that I don't necessarily believe that all of these work that well together in the book. Would it work as a film though? Yes, that could definitely work.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sieger

    *I received this e-ARC via Netgalley for an honest review* Swashbucklers is a fast paced book mashing my love for the 80s movies with that of portal fantasy. Cisco our protagonist returns to his home town of Dark Peak almost 40 years after an incident with a gas leak and a mass hallucination drove him away. Strange things are happening again and he desperately wants to recapture his 80s childhood adventures and reconnect with his friends. The only difference? Cisco and his friends have grown up an *I received this e-ARC via Netgalley for an honest review* Swashbucklers is a fast paced book mashing my love for the 80s movies with that of portal fantasy. Cisco our protagonist returns to his home town of Dark Peak almost 40 years after an incident with a gas leak and a mass hallucination drove him away. Strange things are happening again and he desperately wants to recapture his 80s childhood adventures and reconnect with his friends. The only difference? Cisco and his friends have grown up and now have family lives. So, if those strange things turn out to be real, will they still be able to fight off evil? Dan Hanks does an amazing job in this book, mashing a plot straight out of an 80s movie with the reality of growing up and being adults. Answering the question; "What if those kids from a movie like Goonies had to do it all again in their 40s?" The book is very high paced. Every page you turn something strange, wonderful and sometimes slightly spooky happens. When I sat down for a reading I was engaged the entire time. The story also gave me something very relatable, a nostalgia for my childhood with its videogames and fantastical adventures to magical worlds. So be prepared for lots of pop culture references to videogames, tv shows, movies, comics and more 80s love. So if you love those 80s movies or Stranger Things and sometimes daydream about reliving those moments whilst sitting at your desk or trying to cook dinner with your kids running wild, pick up this book! Dan Hanks' Swashbucklers will be out November 9. Also a massive thank you to NetGalley and the publisher Angry Robots for providing me with this review copy!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Books.With.Peach

    4/5 stars! This book has a very interesting premise and it’s honestly a wild trip. It’s basically like Stranger Things mixed together with Ghostbusters. Both of which I really enjoyed. So, we follow Cisco Collins who returns back to his hometown with his kid, after a murder occurs. As young teens Cisco and his friends defeated a powerful pirate ghost entity which was totally covered up by his town. Years later, the pirate ghost’s powers are leaking and people have been dying in weird ways. Cisco 4/5 stars! This book has a very interesting premise and it’s honestly a wild trip. It’s basically like Stranger Things mixed together with Ghostbusters. Both of which I really enjoyed. So, we follow Cisco Collins who returns back to his hometown with his kid, after a murder occurs. As young teens Cisco and his friends defeated a powerful pirate ghost entity which was totally covered up by his town. Years later, the pirate ghost’s powers are leaking and people have been dying in weird ways. Cisco has to convince his friends, who have children of their own, to join together and fight. It’s up to Cisco and his friends to defeat the ghost again, read and find out how they do it! I really enjoyed how action packed this book was, I literally could not put it down. The plot is engaging and I honestly didn't know where it was going to go everytime I flipped a page. It’s weird, but it works and it’s super fun! The novel feels more sci-fi than fantasy and we don’t really get a lot of worldbuilding or character development. I kinda wish we could’ve gotten more time with the characters before jumping to the next epic action scenes. Overall, I had a great time and it was a fun break from the large fantasy books I usually read. If you’re into a fast paced action novel with sci-fi elements, video game references and ghost busting then I recommend this book to you guys! Check it out when it releases! (Nov. 9th) Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher Angry Robot for giving me an e-arc of the book in exchange for an honest review.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nelly

    “Maybe it’s a kind of magic. The excitement of the unknown future… Then you grow up. You discover life doesn’t work out for most people, you’ll fuck up, you’ll have regrets, the nightmares you had will never truly leave you, but those friendships you treasured will. And that magic you remembered so well? It’s just a memory now. A feeling you can’t really explain and can’t ever get back.” — Swashbucklers by Dan Hanks 🎮🎮🎮.5/5 It’s been thirty years since Cisco left Dark Peak, after he and his friends “Maybe it’s a kind of magic. The excitement of the unknown future… Then you grow up. You discover life doesn’t work out for most people, you’ll fuck up, you’ll have regrets, the nightmares you had will never truly leave you, but those friendships you treasured will. And that magic you remembered so well? It’s just a memory now. A feeling you can’t really explain and can’t ever get back.” — Swashbucklers by Dan Hanks 🎮🎮🎮.5/5 It’s been thirty years since Cisco left Dark Peak, after he and his friends drove away an evil ghost pirate and saved the small town from his wrath. Unfortunately, he’s the only one that remembers the events of that day, making his friends doubt his mental well-being. Deadman’s Grin refuses to stay dead, however, and the same nightmares have started popping up again in Dark Peak. Namely, inanimate objects have been coming to life and murdering people. Cisco and his friends must take up their weapons (souped-up 80s video game consoles) and beat back this bastard once again. This was a really fun and action-packed ride. It reads like a movie: think Ghostbusters but with Christmas decorations coming to life and beating people up. I promise it’s as entertaining as it sounds. There’s a lot of 80s nostalgia here, which I appreciate as an 80s baby. Also, the ending was not at all what I was expecting and I loved it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Cassi

    This book is a trip, y’all and SO good! I stayed up late into the night for several nights in a row wanting to read one more chapter and then one more…. Have you ever thought about if the Stranger Things kids grew up, started families, had adult lives with adult problems and forgot about that time they saved the world and what happened when they were kids somewhere along the way; then are tasked with doing it all again. No? I hadn’t really either, but it makes for an intriguing story. This isn’t This book is a trip, y’all and SO good! I stayed up late into the night for several nights in a row wanting to read one more chapter and then one more…. Have you ever thought about if the Stranger Things kids grew up, started families, had adult lives with adult problems and forgot about that time they saved the world and what happened when they were kids somewhere along the way; then are tasked with doing it all again. No? I hadn’t really either, but it makes for an intriguing story. This isn’t Stranger Things. There’s a different cast of characters. There’s a ghost pirate possessing inanimate objects to wreak havoc and murder upon the town of Dark Peaks. There’s other magical creatures. There’s lots of 80s nostalgia (which I will admit some of which was lost on me as I’m a 90s kid). This is a fantasy with horror and sci-fi elements. If horror is absolutely not your thing, know that there are a couple of graphic murder and violence scenes depicted. Short chapters keep this story moving along and the pages turning very easily. I really loved this one. Since this takes place at Christmas time (possessed Santas and Christmas decorations and all) I am using this one to fulfill the POPSUGAR 2022 reading prompt of a book set during a holiday.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Caroline Hardaker

    What can I say about 'Swashbucklers'? It's discovering a box of memories tucked away in your attic. It's sipping tipple from your teenage years under a blanket. It's watching fireworks in your favourite jumper. It reads like Stephen King on steroids. 'Stranger Things' meets 'It' meets 'The Goonies'. I want to hear this story told late at night over a campfire, while the marshmallows go all gooey. Though on one hand, 'Swashbucklers' is a story about revisiting the places of our past, Hanks makes t What can I say about 'Swashbucklers'? It's discovering a box of memories tucked away in your attic. It's sipping tipple from your teenage years under a blanket. It's watching fireworks in your favourite jumper. It reads like Stephen King on steroids. 'Stranger Things' meets 'It' meets 'The Goonies'. I want to hear this story told late at night over a campfire, while the marshmallows go all gooey. Though on one hand, 'Swashbucklers' is a story about revisiting the places of our past, Hanks makes the heartwarming point that it's people, communities, and friendships that make us who we are. Drop those in the pot and stir in some truly surrealist adventure and you've got a recipe for something utterly readable. Dan Hanks' writing style is energetic, refreshing, and always fun. He has such a warm and familiar voice - so fresh and crisp and uniquely 'Hanks', but like an old friend at the same time. Perfect for an adventure story that tugs at the old nostalgia strings.

  28. 4 out of 5

    The Wulver's Library

    Swashbucklers is the upcoming novel by Dan Hanks which is incredibly fun, whimsical and refreshing. This is a story of nostalgic adventure that is sure to get the throwback memories racing. It begins with the return of Cisco Collins and his son George who return to Dark Peak, a town where a pirate ghost - Deadman’s Grin - was defeated by four kids years ago. These events were covered up as a gas leak but Cisco has been drawn back to the town as our Swashbucklers must work to save the world yet a Swashbucklers is the upcoming novel by Dan Hanks which is incredibly fun, whimsical and refreshing. This is a story of nostalgic adventure that is sure to get the throwback memories racing. It begins with the return of Cisco Collins and his son George who return to Dark Peak, a town where a pirate ghost - Deadman’s Grin - was defeated by four kids years ago. These events were covered up as a gas leak but Cisco has been drawn back to the town as our Swashbucklers must work to save the world yet again. This is a rabid direction in 80s nostalgic content. This is the birth of the Goonies and Ghostbusters that is set to have you reliving your youth. Who didn’t believe that they would vanquish evil and save the world when they were a kid from a villain long thought dead? The character dynamics is the strongest part of the book. Much like other 80s movies, our four friends - Cisco, Doc, Michelle and Jake - are full of good-natured, mocking banter whilst they first terrorising monsters and embark on bizarre journeys. Even the chapter titles are lines from well-known retro movies. There is a reason that shows like Cobra Kai, Stranger Things and Lost in Space are wildly popular these days. It is the fondness and heart-warming tenderness that those stories ignite in our hearts. The sheer delight of paying homage to our beloved programmes, games, books, animations that made our childhoods joyfully exhausting. Hanks has created such a light read that forces us out of the mundane routine of depreciation and forces us to find that appealing spark that we once had. This is a novel that brings forth a balance of fond memories as a child but thrown into the monotonous acceptance of the present. For me, the journey these characters take are very reminiscent of our own and Hanks does a great job of showing us characters that are full of past regret struggling in reality for a redo button, failing to understand the cost. This is a weirdly chaotic read that brings childhood tales to life. Action-packed and full of heart, Dan Hanks has simultaneously impressed and broken me with this story. Thanks to Angry Robot Books and Netgalley for the ARC.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    This was a whole lot of nostalgic fun set in very current times. This book felt like what might happen if the Goonies got back together to save the day, 30 years later as 40+ yaar olds with families and jobs hanging over them. I really enjoyed how it all came together with similar vibes to Ready Player One with the 80s pop culture references. Our main four characters are distinct and likable and their relationships felt natural and realistic. All in all, a great ride. 4.5 stars.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Reese Hogan

    I was approached about writing a blurb for Swashbucklers, and I’m so glad I was! It was an absolutely delightful book. I laughed out loud several times, and thought the levity and adventurousness throughout were perfectly balanced and on point. Here is the blurb I provided: “Packed with heart, wit, and plenty of action, Swashbucklers is the sequel to all your favorite childhood adventures. Hanks at the top of his game!”

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