Cover Image: Swashbucklers

Swashbucklers

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Member Reviews

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.
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I read this off the back off reading some other gaming type books, as was taken in by the rather clever front cover and the game controlleresque skull.
the blurb for this book sounded really rather intrigiung, but unfortunatly, after several occasions, could just not get into the story, the pacing was a little off for me, which is a great shame as the charecters are likable.

Thank you netgalley and  the publishers for the opportunity in reading this book prior to publication for an honest review.
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An excellent action adventure featuring magic, talking animals, undead pirates and the woes of finding a baby-sitter. 
Tinged with 80s nostalgia, a group of forty-somethings must once again saddle up to save Britain from an evil force, hell bent on destroying everything.
A fresh, new, page turning fantasy adventure of epic proportions!
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An author new to me, living over the tops of the Pennines (close to me) so I was intrigued to read this book.  The story starts with Cisco Collins returning with his son George to his childhood town Dark Peak close to Manchester..
You soon gather that a traumatic event happened in his teens which led Cisco to escape from Dark Peak as soon as he could.  That being said he maintained friendships with Doc and Jake and it seems that he is returning to his home turf struggling with being a parent and a divorce. 
The event Cisco wanted to leave behind was rememberd by everyone but him as a gas leak, for him it was a nightmarish time, battling an evil prirate ghost called Deadman's Grin and closing the gates of hell to save the world.  Not long after his return mythical figures reappear,and to be honest when the talking fox showed up I was sold!
Although set in todays world there is a strong nostalgic link to childhood and the 80s which I loved.  Reminiscent of IT by Stephen King I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend. 
My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for access to the ARC, all views are my own.
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The beginning of this was great.  It's easy to sympathize with the main character and the other characters are all lovely.  The action started early, but I really felt a lack of connection with the characters and events and just didn't really care how the story would end.
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I thought that this was really fun. I love the whimsicality of the tone that Hanks created; you don't often see adult books with such a lighthearted and fun narrative voice or premise. I, personally, wish that the book didn't spend so much time alluding to a battle from when the characters were kids and instead focused on the time and plot at hand. I found that a bit confusing, and it took me out of the story a bit. I almost would have rather read the story of the first battle, from when they were kids. I found myself more interested and drawn in by that idea. I do think, while the book was definitely a fun ride, the genre and themes felt a bit muddled as well as the villain not being fleshed out enough to make a lot of sense.  Overall, though, I thought this was really fun!
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This book is a crazy ride from start to finish, jam packed with 80's nostalgia, possessed Christmas decorations, and a whole lot of heart. Hanks takes a concept that could have been nothing more than an empty pull at nostalgia and infuses it with humor, love, and messages that resonate with any person coming face to face with the responsibilities of adulthood.
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Swashbucklers was so good I immediately recommended it to every SciFi, Action Adventure fan I know.  The author combines elements of The Goonies, Stranger Things, Caimh McDonnell's Stranger Times, and nostalgia for the nineties. This non-stop adventure pitting the grown-up versions of young heroes against the super natural/fantasy villains races along and even manages to include the realistic struggles of young families, challenges of memory, re-capturing the wonder of childhood, adulting and old friends. First in a series!
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When your childhood fun times drags you kicking and screaming back to Sunday morning cartoons and toys and your imagination, but now your knees pop and you have back pain that you can't quite figure out., oh and you have to find a sitter. 

This was great and all of the "Have you lost your mind? and Can I help you find it?" was just the absulte best. This was definitely a special read and I highly recommend. If this could somehow be a tv show or movie, it would be a cult classic is no time.

The only issue I had was that there was definitely some male ego things that drove me a little bonkers. I'm not saying he's not allowed to have feelings, because all of the feelings the Cisco were going through were valid. But the privelege of being a CIS white man was apparent in a few scenes. 

Otherwise, this was amazing and I can't wait to see what else Dan Hanks comes out with.
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Nostalgia is a dangerous tool to use in a novel as what people think happened is not always the case. They prefer to see the past through rose tinted glasses. The 1980s can be seen as an era of Nintendo playing and Bermuda shorts, but that was not my 80s. I remember the Spectrum, my milk being stolen, and riots. Dan Hanks takes on this prickly challenge in Swashbucklers and succeeds by sprinkling the nostalgia with a dose of contemporary reality. How are a bunch of people heading towards their 50s meant to save the day when they need ten minutes just to rise out of bed?

Cisco Collins has moved away from his hometown 30 years ago, but now he is back. No one except him remembers the extraordinary events that made him leave. Whilst Cisco recalls an army of inanimate objects and creature of the imagination attacking the town, the locals just remember it as a gas leak. With his young son in tow, Cisco feels compelled to return as the attacks are starting again. Can he convince his childhood friends to take up arms and fight once more against an enemy they thought killed decades earlier?

As a slice of nostalgic fiction Hanks does the right thing in Swashbucklers and commits to it fully. I have read other extremely popular nostalgia fair that piggybacks on yesterday's ideas and has none of its own. Hanks pays homage to what has gone on before but creates an epic action novel in its own right. There is more than one level of nostalgia included. There are references to 80s toys, pastimes, and media, but the book itself also has the structure of that era. You could imagine this book as a film of the era.

What does that mean? Action set pieces. Hanks is not an author that will keep a reader waiting long and early in proceedings there is a massive set piece set in the Christmas markets of Manchester. Cisco and his childhood crew must remember the past quickly if they are going to survive. Seeing the shoppers at the Arndale Centre being attacked by animated Christmas decorations sticks in the memory, but there are also several other fun sequences in the novel.

Hanks never forgets to entertain the reader, but the book also has a strong character dimension. Cisco is no longer a child, but a man with failed marriage and child in tow. He returns to his hometown to old friends he abandoned. Where does he fit in their world, and will they forgive him? The book also poses an interesting quandary – would you save the world or your child? I think many parents would take the selfish option. Swashbucklers is one of the first novels I have read that feels contemporary and takes note of the pandemic and societal shift we have seen in recent years. At times Cisco questions if the people of 2021 deserve to be saved again. This bleakness prevents the sense of nostalgia from feeling saccharine.

There is an interesting narrative tweak in Swashbucklers as it reads like a sequel to a book you have not read. It is the second part of It, without you having the chance to read the first. The past is instead told thorough the memories and dialogue of the adult characters. It seems like any prequel would be just as action packed and the way that this novel is written, it is possible for it to happen and remain fresh.

Hanks is an author who likes to write larger than life fantasy action. There is no small here. If you are a reader who loves their action set pieces to be on a huge scale, this book is for you. Hanks seems to write in techno-colour and surround sound, all you need is someone to throw sweet popcorn as you read, and you would have the perfect movie in a book.
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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.
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Put Stranger Things, Stephen King’s IT, Ghostbusters, and Chronicles of Narnia in a barrel, give it a good shake, and you’re left with this book. It’s a great read! There’s a lot of fun goofy bits with the plastic video game consoles they use as weapons to fight giant Santas and angels come to life, but there’s also more serious “going on a quest to kill evil“ times. One of the things that I enjoyed the most was the clear love between the four friends. Yeah you can screw up, yeah you can piss them off, but at the end of the day they still love you because you’re family (can you tell found family is one of my favorite tropes?). I didn’t see the ending coming at all, and I really enjoyed it, it was very satisfying.

Thank you to NetGalley & Angry Robot for this advanced reader copy. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
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I kindly received a copy of this book from NetGalley.

Swashbucklers is a mixture of Ghost Buster's, Jumanji and maybe a bit of Goosebumps. It's a story of middle-aged parents who previously saved the world against the supernatural as teens. The book has some quite humorous parts in it based on the age of our heroes but I did find it a bit repetitive how many times their ages were mentioned.

I liked the references to Manchester, UK, as it made it a story I could actually visualise myself. The idea is certainly unique but I just wanted to learn more of the magical world rather than focusing on the 'baddie'. 

I enjoyed this book but found myself frustrated sometimes. It's supposed to be set today with fantastical elements but I found it kind of didn't fit in either space and so felt ungrounded. I wish the story had spent longer in the magical world so that it allowed me to get engrossed in a new world rather than trying to picture 'normal life' having evil toys in it.
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I was sold almost as soon as I read the blurb. I am a sucker for the "getting the gang back together" trope and the humor was promising to be everything I wanted Edgar Cantero's Meddling Kids to be. 

Cisco as a main character was super relatable - trying to find his place in the world and struggling between the nostalgia for his childhood and trying to raise his own son. I loved the side characters, though I wanted some more time with them because at times Cisco's inner monologue about his son felt a little whiny. I particularly loved the glimpses we got of Doc and Michelle's relationship.

The story was bizarre but in a good way. It was so action packed that I struggled putting it down because I kept wanting to learn what happened next and every time I thought I knew where the author was going he introduced a whole new element. Literally there were pirates and killer Christmas decorations and school plays and talking foxes and so much more.

Overall, I would recommend this to fans of Kings of the Wyld or Ready Player One as well as movies/shows like The Goonies or Stranger Things. And for anyone who likes seasonal reads, this very much takes place at Christmastime so now would be the perfect time to pick it up!
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So, I didn't think this was bad, but it just wasn't for me. It kinda my fault I didn't realize this before I requested an arc, but here we are.

I enjoyed the discussions surrounding adulthood, childhood and the role nostalgia can play. How many are stuck in the past due to nostalgia, and that this makes it difficult to enjoy the many joys of the present. I think this was explored really well, and was my favourite part of the story.

Everything else though... Maybe its cause I'm a 90s kid and lacked the nostalgia for the stuff that was present in the book, but everything was abit much for me. The various mis-matching story elements, the plotline, it was just way too over the top and silly for my taste.

The characters didn't really grab me either, and were for the most part just there. I think they needed more characterization, although I realize theres not much room for that in such a fast paced story.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the arc!
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I recently tweeted “It’s not recommended to read this book at nighttime as you can suffer from sleep deprivation due to the high level of fun”.
I think this summarise my idea on the book: a gripping, highly entertaining, crazy story that kept me turning pages and have a lot of fun.
It’s start with a crazy (and very funny) scene and never disappoints as the craziness and the fun are increasing as you read.
If you are looking for a multilayered horror which will make you reflect on life and universe this is the wrong book.
But if you are looking for pure and unadulterated fun, the lovechild of the Goonies and Ghostbuster please go and read it.
There’s plenty of 80s nostalgia in this story, pop references and the most extraordinary arms to fight the bad guys.
There’s friendship, family but don’t expect a heartwarming, Christmas story because there’s horror, gore and very bad guys (even some of them are not the type of monster you usually meet)
Have fun and enjoy it, that’s what I did.
Many thanks to Angry Robots for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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3.5/5 stars

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 realizes that being a childhood hero isn't like it was in the movies, because of four main reasons :

- No one in his home town remembers or acknowledges the incident in its true light
- He's no longer young and age has caught up with him with adult things like poor cardio, joint pains, and having to find a babysitter while chasing a monster doesn't help either
- The pirate ghost wasn't truly destroyed and is now plotting his return
- Neither him nor his friends remember much of their heroic deeds or their magical childhood adventures which are important to save the world

The above points are great to build a fun premise and contribute heavily to the plot line. Cisco as a character starts with all of the above disadvantages and the story follows him and his friends as they rise above these and battle it out with the pirate ghost and it's a fun ride to be in! Swashbucklers as a story doesn't take itself too seriously, has a healthy portion of witty banter and comical scenes, a good scoop of absurdism and good writing to back it all up. 

When it comes to characters, we primarily hook with Cisco, who's extremely nostalgic and actively clings to his past and resents to be put under light or to take responsibilities. These make him humane and relatable on several levels. His relationship with his friends and his son are done well as well. Pacing is tight and stakes constantly evolve. The setting is refreshing since it combines 8-bit video game influences with a variety of magical creatures.

I love the way adult life is shown in the story. It makes the story real and characters relatable. It contributes well to enliven the setting and makes the world immersive.

However, the book is not without flaws. The chapters are presented in varying POVs and the shifts don't add anything meaningful to the story. They help to look at the situation from varying levels of stakes and perspectives but nothing that couldn't be done with Cisco's singular POV. At times, the chapter POV toggles subtly between scenes and I don't think it was absolutely necessary. This is a subjective comment but am saying it as a con because it acts counter intuitively. Instead of POV characters becoming closely relatable, they come across as less fleshed out and the connect with them grows less.

As I mentioned, there's a good scoop of absurdism in the story and they risk being downright chaotic. It's up to the reader to either take it in stride or to question their suspension of disbelief. Also depends on the state of mind. So, I'd recommend to set your expectations right and to know what this book is and isn't about going in, to enjoy the story better.

Dan Hanks as a writer swings between poetic observations and prose and comical banter and action sequences. He doesn't go all the way in with either of them, though this book shines with potential. I feel it'd be great if he writes both ends dramatically, just giving in to the awesome premise that he has come up with and letting them take their course. This is just an observation though, I enjoyed reading the book as is.

Overall, I'd say Swashbucklers, as the title suggests, has something unique to present to you. It's a setting and premise led story with good characters and smooth prose. Pick this one up if you enjoy a fun and breezy adventure set in a fantastical world. Happy reading!
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It meets The Goonies meets Ghostbusters, with a sprinkling of nods to some more 80’s favorites. Swashbucklers is a fun nostalgia read of fantasy, growing up, and childhood adventures that may be forgotten but leave their mark into adulthood. Loved it.
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Fantastic, fast paced, funny action adventure set in the north of England. It's hard to capture the essence but imagine the kids from Stranger Things (or the Goonies) as middle aged adults finding out that the evil they beat as children is back for vengeance! 30 years of forgetting all about their crazy experiences and suddenly having to deal with possessed Christmas decorations and a ghost pirate, whilst coping with the aches, pains and responsibilities of having grown up.
Cisco is our protagonist, a divorced father who never quite got over how saving the world ruined his life. I love the interaction between him and his old school friends, especially as they rediscover their friendship. The characters are just perfect, both the human ones and the fantasy ones. I look forward to learning more about them.
There's a wonderful sarcastic humour with some sharply accurate social commentary and the author has an enviable imagination. There's loads of references to fantasy fiction, pop culture, video gaming and it works so well, I loved it and I really hope someone like Simon Pegg picks up the film rights.
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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.
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