Cover Image: Swashbucklers


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From the man who brought us Tommy-gun touting gargoyles over Manhattan comes Swashbucklers, a wild mash up of fairy tales and horror,  Four middle-aged adults must go back to their youthful haunts to fight Deadman's Grin (this guy's a great villain btw - plenty of space for some cutting humor).  Once they were young and invulnerable but now age and just life in general has taken its toll.  Good world building and sweet and wonderful character development.  As wild as the plot is, it is also a story of friendship and love.  If this book was a performance, I'd give it a standing ovation - good on you Dan.
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The world building & writing in this book was amazing, but I just couldn’t connect with the characters at all. They just lacked a lot of development. I just wish the story and characters were worthy of the world they were set in. I will read more from this author for the world building alone though and getting me excited for what was to come.
Full review to come on YouTube.
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Swashbucklers by Dan Hanks is a fast-paced and non-stop adventure that's brimming with 80’s nostalgia. 

Three decades after Cisco and his friends saved Dark Peak from an evil pirate, Deadman’s Grin. He decided to return to his hometown as the threat returned, forcing them to face Deadman’s Grin once again.

What I liked:
- talking fox and evil pirate ghost!
- 80s movie plot meets 40 something adults with adulting problems (don't see this often heh)
- portal fantasy mixed with horror elements
-  fun, nostalgic, and at some point whimsy

What I did not like:
- There were some parts that it's more on telling rather than showing
- Some plot elements felt forced

Overall, Swashbucklers is a fun and nostalgic read. Fans of Stranger Things and The Goonies will definitely enjoy this.

Thanks so much Angry Robot Books for the DRC. All thoughts and opinions are mine.
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Let’s start this off with the fact that I’m a great fan of Angry Robot, they always seem to release great books 🙂

Cisco is the only one that remembers Deadman’s Grin, this has not been great for his life and marriage as he also can’t let go.

And in Dark Peaks it’s all starting over again!

This was a great read, really pulled me through from start to finish. Some wonderfully described images still stick in my mind, especially the Christmas Market!

Dan plays with a lot of tropes from old children’s favourites and some newer film-based ones, but puts his own twist on them and serves them up fresh (love the use of old consoles) and without stumbling.

In places quite dark, but also very funny, a bit horror, a bit fantasy, a bit sci-fi but all a great story, looking forward to reading more from Dan.

I was given this on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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If you're a proudly geeky reader who grew up in the 80's, with a love of fantasy/horror then this might be the book for you. It's very, very nostalgic, and chock full of references to things like cabbage patch dolls and (now) retro gaming gear. Sometimes I found this a little much, but the narrative is fun overall. Try to imagine something along the lines of a Goonies reunion, with the characters now in their 40's with kids, and you're on the right track. Also some LGBTQ characters. 

I kept thinking 'This would make a great movie!', as I could really picture all of the cool action scenes (very reminiscent of Ghost busters in places). There' are a lot of references to events that happened before the novel took place, which made me wonder if I was reading a sequel at times, and certain things are repeated over and over again (such as the main character being out of shape). This got a little tedious, but that's just me being nit-picky. Overall I would recommend this book.
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I tried but I just couldn't finish this book. It isn't that it is bad, but I just kept getting bored and distracted. It wasn't compelling enough to keep my interest.
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This? This is what Ready Player One wants to be when it grows up. A loving acknowledgement of of eighties geek culture without being a slavish recitation of details. What happens after we all grow up and "put down our childish things?" Find out!
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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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