I couldn’t hit the apply button fast enough for Swashbucklers after reading the synopsis. I mean, seriously. A Hellmouth, unknown hero returning to their hometown, 80s video games, an enchanted forest AND a talking fox?! And that’s me just picking out my favourite bits; it’s not even everything that is promised. Either this book was going to be one hell of a ride (pun completely intended) or it was going to epically fail… thankfully it didn’t. Read on to find out why Swashbucklers needs to get added to your TBR right now.
This book was provided for free by NetGalley and the publishers in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to NetGalley and Angry Robot for the opportunity to read this book!
There are some dark moments in the novel, including references to painful torture that happened in the past. There is a general theme of anxiety and depression, of not feeling good enough and being a failure, which may trigger a reaction for some people.
There are plenty of epic fails in Swashbucklers, it’s just not the actual book that fails. Cisco Collins once saved his entire hometown from being sucked into hell by an evil ghost – the problem is no one remembers it. Not even his best friends, and so when he heads back home with his kid in tow after his marriage breaks down, he’s not in great form. He remembers a lot of things they don’t, and all the town remembers is how he blew up their school. It’s very reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in that respect, apart from the Scooby Gang isn’t a bunch of teenagers. They’re parents in their forties with kids and that gives Swashbucklers an entirely different dynamic, which parents will love because Hanks has not glossed over any of the realities of parenthood at all.
Need to go monster hunting? Sure, but you need to make sure you’ve got a babysitter first. Monster attack while you’re out with the family? The children don’t sit still or patiently wait while you deal with evil ghosts, expect to be dealing with vomiting and other parenting chaos. Add in other parents and their offspring, and you’re on double parent duty, whether it’s for the adults or the kids depends on the situation…
Swashbucklers is a mix of genres, and it can be quite hard to pin down just one to describe it. There are elements of fantasy, science fiction and horror which Hanks has managed to blend together seamlessly along with retro video games and pop culture. In a nutshell, Swashbucklers is the retro pop culture fantasy novel you didn’t know you needed. It’s a love letter to the 80s, and readers who were born or grew up in the 80s will love the nostalgia. Gamers will appreciate Hanks’ imaginative weaponry concepts, which utilises old school consoles to shoot pixels.
I completely expected Swashbucklers to be based in the US and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was set in the UK. That added another dynamic to the novel, which just made it even better for me. There is also a diverse cast of characters which hasn’t been made to feel posed. It’s just a normal everyday group of family and friends who fight monsters in their spare time.
There are so many layers to this book, and I feel like I have barely scratched the surface with them in this review. Swashbucklers isn’t just a novel about fighting monsters and ghosts. It’s about friendship, family, and finding yourself when you’ve lost everything. Cisco isn’t your conventional hero, he’s not a golden boy, and he often fails, especially as a father. This is a fun novel filled with fantasy and science fiction elements running rampant yet grounded firmly in reality, and that is what makes it so good.
Books by Dan Hanks
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Over to you
What do you think of a book that combines so many genres? Sounds like a bit too much or great fun? Let me know in the comments 🙂
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