Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town
Stranger Things Book 2
Hardcover | Kindle | Audiobook
By Adam Christopher
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: May 28, 2019
I freaking love the Stranger Things franchise! The nostalgia, the horror, the Dungeons & Dragons references, I just love it all. So I jumped when this tie-in book to the television series came up for review. Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town is the second official novel to be released and it is probably destined to be a fan favorite since it is all about Jim Hopper. In fact, this dives head first into his time as a New York detective. Curious? So was I!
The year was 1977 and New York City was suffering as it was one hot summer. Add to that the ongoing danger that was Son of Sam and you can only begin to imagine the fog of terror that surrounded all those living within. The reader is given the chance to see Hopper and his family, at relative peace with the world, struggling like any young couple with a small child would. The story starts off quite mundane and relatable. In fact, Hopper is only a fraction as intense and anxious as he will one day become. I have no doubt the events in this story helped elevate his issues.
The story itself is brought about by Eleven finding a box labeled “New York” that was hidden away. On a snowy Christmas Day, the young girl persuades him to recount the events recorded within that box. There is quite a bit of back and forth as the novel progresses, allowing us to see the reactions and hear the questions that El poses as the story is told. It feels remarkably like an episode as we constantly shift timelines and are allowed a small respite as the tale unfolds. Not to say it is bad, the chance to understand the dynamic between Hopper and Eleven is priceless. Her queries and his fatherly hesitation do much to really ground the book and remind readers that she is still a little girl and he her father figure. Think of the intermission sequences in The Princess Bride film adaptation and you will understand what I mean.
Hopper has lost a partner, but at this pivotal point he is gaining a new one, Delgado. And while his new partner gets a few chapters to take on the role of protagonist, this is still overwhelmingly Hopper’s story and he leads the way for the vast majority of the book. Their focus is a new string of murders that have no apparent ties to the ongoing Son of Sam crisis. In fact, mysterious clues and random patterns make this killer stand out from everything else going on at the time. But when government officials step in and change the rules, Hopper and Delgado decide to do things their own way. But as we all know, breaking rules often comes with a price.
The mystery becomes even more enigmatic as the detectives work on the case. But as a breakthrough occurs, their whole world gets thrown upside down (see what I did there?). Hopper puts not just his career, but also his life on the line, endangering many around him. But once he figures out what is going on, he realizes he might be the only one that can stop this maniac from killing again. In fact, there are many plans in place to ramp up the body count. And trust me when I say that blackouts do not help anything!
Obviously, we know that Hopper survives this ordeal since this story takes place years before the events of the Stranger Things show. But the case itself is a twisty, dark tale of mania and darkness. I enjoyed the book, but the only tie-ins to the Netflix series are the characters discussing it. As creepy and deadly as it gets, it is not preternatural or paranormal in nature. So if you are coming here looking for demogorgans, then I must warn you off. However, do not let that turn you away, as this is a terrific tale of how evil and dangerous plain old humans can be! I would absolutely recommend this to any fan of Hopper and pretty much anyone that likes the streaming series. But the expanded appeal to mystery readers cannot be forgotten, as it is a fabulously woven tale that transcends the norm to deliver a heartfelt and heartbreaking story that enriches the greater Stranger Things universe and gives a wider view of a beloved character.
Chief Jim Hopper reveals long-awaited secrets to Eleven about his old life as a police detective in New York City, confronting his past before the events of the hit show Stranger Things.
Christmas, Hawkins, 1984. All Chief Jim Hopper wants is to enjoy a quiet first Christmas with Eleven, but his adopted daughter has other plans. Over Hopper’s protests, she pulls a cardboard box marked “New York” out of the basement—and the tough questions begin. Why did Hopper leave Hawkins all those years ago? What does “Vietnam” mean? And why has he never talked about New York?
Although he’d rather face a horde of demogorgons than talk about his own past, Hopper knows that he can’t deny the truth any longer. And so begins the story of the incident in New York—the last big case before everything changed. . . .
Summer, New York City, 1977. Hopper is starting over after returning home from Vietnam. A young daughter, a caring wife, and a new beat as an NYPD detective make it easy to slip back into life as a civilian. But after shadowy federal agents suddenly show up and seize the files about a series of brutal, unsolved murders, Hopper takes matters into his own hands, risking everything to discover the truth.
Soon Hopper is undercover among New York’s notorious street gangs. But just as he’s about to crack the case, a blackout rolls across the boroughs, plunging Hopper into a darkness deeper than any he’s faced before.