cover image Swashbucklers


Dan Hanks. Angry Robot, $14.99 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-85766-938-4

Hanks (Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire) combines sci-fi and fantasy elements into an energetic cross-genre romp. As teens, friends Cisco, Jake, Dorothy, and Michelle saved the town of Dark Peak, England, from the villainous Deadman’s Grin—though they have little memory of how. Single father Cisco, now in his 40s and recently divorced, returns to Dark Peak to reunite with his friends and unravel the lingering mystery from 32 years ago. But the forces of darkness are stirring once more, led by a returned Deadman’s Grin. As strange phenomena sweep the town, Cisco and friends must draw on vague memories of their previous encounter with the Deadman’s Grin to vanquish evil once more. But this task is complicated as the four find that “this saving the world stuff [is] just too hard as an adult” and struggle to balance their mission with their parenting duties. Hanks’s worldbuilding incorporates a plethora of ’80s pop culture references and borrowed ideas from genre classics. The result is a fun if familiar backdrop to the entertaining characters and their well-wrought relationships, but the story suffers from some glaring plot holes—including why these four are the chosen ones at all. Still, readers willing to overlook the flaws are in for a quirky adventure. Agent: Sara Megibow, KT Literary. (Nov.)