Cover Image: Swashbucklers


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Member Reviews

What if the Goonies grew up and had to do it all over again -- but this time, they had to slay monsters in between school pickups and drop offs, plus deal with bad knees, a mortgage, and HR on their asses about taking so much time off work?

Swashbucklers answers this question with attitude and heart, making for one of the most fun reads I've had in a long time. It's like It meets Stranger Things meets John Dies at the End, wrapped in an ironic British Christmas sweater. I absolutely adored it -- maybe it's just that the humor, references, and nostalgia were exactly in my nerdy niche interests, but I truly think almost anyone will love this book. This is also, interestingly, the first book I've read to successfully integrate the pandemic and the general insanity of the last five or so years. These aren't just offhand references, either; the author actually does a great job integrating how those events have impacted the human psyche and the general level of weirdness people will dismiss these days.

General shenanigans aside, there's also a lot of heart here in the relationships between the characters and particularly Cisco's relationship with his son George. The book pulls off a great balancing act between childlike adventure and adult cynicism. One other thing I appreciate is its success in avoiding one trope in particular that really bugs me in this genre: the Smurfette principle. Rather than one woman shoved into the gang as a mysterious character or even just a basic love interest, there are multiple well-rounded, strong women involved in the plot, who are just as flawed and three-dimensional as the men. 

This book releases November 9, and if you at all like plucky tales along the lines of E.T., the Goonies, Stranger Things, etc., I highly recommend you pick it up. It's an absolute blast!
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It does what it says on the tin. This was a good ol' swashbuckling read, part Goonies, part Ghostbusters, part not-scary-at-all It. Cisco Collins returns to his hometown thirty years on, to be re-united with his childhood friends (who have forgotten the previous adventure), and finally kill the monster pirate that is threatening (again!) to destroy the world. Only now the gang are all middle-aged with kids, so the whole thing is a bit more difficult to organize.

The bones of the tale were all there, the friends who welcome him back like nothing had changed, the various monster attacks, the helpful talking animals, the trip through to another fantastical world etc, but this was, overall, a very light read. I would have said more suitable to the YA market, but all the protagonists were adults. The secret to writing a great kids' book is for the author to believe, truly believe, in the possibility of magic, and this story is lacking in that suspension of disbelief. The main character is a bit depressing and defeatist, and speaking as a middle-aged person myself, in need of a good boot in the ass. Hitting 40 certainly does not mean being less fit or energetic, indeed you can be far more so, if you get organized and have the right attitude: after all, you are smarter and more experienced and should be able to put this wisdom to better use. 

The story itself has good momentum, and the characters are reasonably well drawn, and the humorous interchanges lighten the narrative appreciably. However, it is a pity the author did not include flashbacks to the childhood adventures, to provide a counterpoint to the present-day attacks, or to highlight the importance of the 1980s culture references. The occasional political diatribe was unnecessary too, but I suppose we'll be seeing references to Trump and the Covid pandemic in literature for years to come, so Hanks can be forgiven for this attempt to gain currency with his projected readership.

On the whole, not a bad book, as such, mostly suitable for the exhausted 40-something parents of real-life, mirrored by the main characters, who only have time for a half-hearted swashbuckle and wee trip down memory lane, before collapsing on the sofa for the night. That said, it was easy reading, and at least the ending wasn't quite the trite, tied-up-in-a-bow experience I had expected.
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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 Robot for providing me with this review copy!
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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.
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Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read this book.
I loved Swashbucklers so much!
It was crazy and it was so much fun to read. 
I couldn't put the book down and finished it in a day! 
I highly recommend this book!
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Great looking cover and the synopsis sounded intriguing....... fun? Yes,. Action? Also yes. Depth and detail? Not really
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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.
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