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Pub Date 09 Nov 2021 | Archive Date 09 Nov 2021

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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 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...
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...

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ISBN 9780857669384
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Average rating from 47 members

Featured Reviews

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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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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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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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.

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Dan Hanks is the king of modern-day pulp fiction, and I mean that in the best way possible. His books are full of adventure and excitement, leaving the reader wanting even more exploration within each world he's devised. Swashbucklers pairs a great feel for 80's adventure movies with the pangs and twinges of adulthood, setting a perfect nostalgic tone. His characters feel authentically grown from the glimpses we get of their childhoods and Hanks weaves their development throughout the almost non-stop action. Similar to his debut novel, Swashbucklers feels like it would be a great movie or long-form TV show; I'm just surprised no one has optioned them yet.

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[Transcript of a video review posted to Instagram Reels]

If you like Stranger Things, It, and The Goonies, then Swashbucklers, by Dan Hanks is the book for you.

It’s dripping with 80’s nostalgia and quirky weirdness.


• An evil pirate ghost as the main bad guy.
• Tons of monster fighting using modified 80’s game consoles as weapons.
•!Portals to other worlds.
• A talking fox as a mentor character.

It’s a hell of an adventure!

It’s weird. And good. And super fun. Plus it has a damn cool cover.



Back in the 80’s a group of kids fought off a super-evil pirate ghost and a ton of monsters to basically save the world. Since most people don’t believe in monsters, the incident was written off as a gas leak by those in power and largely forgotten as time passed.

Now, in the present day only one of those former children has clear memories of what really happened and the others in the group have mysteriously forgotten all about their monster-fighting adventures as kids.

When the monster attacks start ramping up again, it’s up to the one guy who remembers the past to get the group of, now adult, friends back together, arm them with their old game-console-based weapons and kick some ghost pirate ass.

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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.


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.


Swashbuckler makes use of a number of fantasy tropes (down to the talking animal who helps the main characters), but it does that in a fresh and/or endearing way. One of the reasons why the book works so well, though, is that there's a dash of "magical technology" woven into the story (the protagonists's old video game controllers, which work as weapons and bring a lot of fun to the table) and a healthy dose of '80s nerdiness (and don't worry, even if you weren't born yet in that era, you won't have any problem getting your bearings, because classics are classics for a reason). I wish we got more flashbacks of the original characters' adventure as kids, but I realise that's not the story Hanks wants to tell here, and the ones we do get are functional to the narrative, so I'm not complaining.


While I got a kick out of the story, I have to admit I needed a little more from the characters. Cisco is supposed to be our hero (if a bit out of shape 😂), but his childhood best friend Doc (short for Dorothy) steals the scene multiple times. I loved how Hanks put her in a same-sex marriage with another old friend, and how she can be a spouse and a mother while retaining her spunk and her ability to kick ass (despite middle age throwing a wrench into her gears). I also loved how her friendship with Cisco, despite their having grown apart in more than a way, only needs a little spark to get reignited. I was left wanting more from Jake and Michelle, but I understand that, while being part of the original gang, this is less their story than it is Cisco's (and even Doc's). There are also some moments that lean more towards telling than showing, but they aren't particularly heavy-handed, so the story still flows nicely.
The ending is bittersweet, but full of hope. One could say Cisco's journey comes full circle, except he's learned a lot about parenthood, courage and heroism, and he should now have the means to change the outcome of his life. Though I like open endings, there's a final scene with the rest of the gang that feels a bit too unresolved even for my liking, but the "real" ending is brilliant, if maybe not suited for those readers who need a more spelled-out one. In short, Swashbucklers is a fantasy-meets-nostalgia standalone with a fresh concept that will captivate nerds of all ages who can take an open ending in stride 🙂.

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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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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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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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A fun, exciting, crazy adventure! The story is a thrill ride but the book could have benefitted from a bit more depth in the characters. Overall, this is a quick, delightful read.

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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.

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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.

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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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