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Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town is a Stranger Things novel written by Adam Christopher, released on May 28, 2019. The novel delves into Jim Hopper's backstory prior to the events of the series.[1]


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.


Hopper and El are relaxing in Hopper's cabin for their first Christmas together. They're snowed in and Mike is away to see relatives, so a bored Eleven asks Hopper to tell her about his life. He tries to avoid the subject, especially not wanting to talk about Vietnam, but caves in when Eleven pulls out a box containing files from his time as a homicide detective in New York City.

The specific case that Hopper recalls is a series of murders, happening during the early summer of 1977, with unusual cards left at the crime scene, which are identified later as being handmade Zener cards. Hopper and his new partner, Rosario Delgado, become obsessed with the case and continue investigating even after federal agents take over, as one of the three victims had been an undercover agent infiltrating a new gang called the Vipers.

One day, a man named Leroy Washington arrives at the police station where they work, possessing another Zener card and asking for protection. They learn that a man who calls himself Saint John is leading the Vipers and planning something he calls the Day of the Serpent, during which he intends for "Satan to come and reclaim His throne in New York". Hopper waits for Leroy to get down from the drugs he had taken, but is furious to learn that he had been discharged early in the morning the next day. Thankfully, Leroy calls him later from a phone booth, visibly scared, asking Hopper to pick him up. When Hopper arrives, he gets kidnapped by Special Agent Gallup, who then forces him and Leroy to infiltrate the Vipers. Their goal is to figure out what this Day of the Serpent is all about, in order to be able to strike back. This however leads to Hopper having to become disguised as a cop on the run, after Gallup plants his weapon on a crime scene.

Leroy, who is a recruiter for the Vipers, brings Hopper back to their hideout in an industrial complex, picking up his sister Martha and other members on the way. During this time, Delgado is following her own leads, and Hopper meets her briefly to tell her about Gallup's plan, asking her to take care of his wife Diane and daughter Sara.

Hopper earns Saint John's trust thanks to their common background of being Vietnam veterans. He learns that Saint John has participated in experiments to create super-soldiers, from which he came back mentally damaged. He however does not manage to act before the Day of the Serpent, a massive power blackout (see Notes) triggered by Saint John sacrificing Lisa Sargeson, a clinical and criminal psychologist as well as part-time magician that Hopper had met during a party, and who Saint John knew from a rehabilitation program at a place called the Rookwood Institute. After Hopper does not manage to save her, Martha and him have to run away from the gang.

They manage to escape the Bronx, now turning into a playground for gangs and criminals due to low police presence and the absence of power, before rejoining with the federal agents. Hopper wants to return to his wife, learning that Delgado had been taking care of her and Sara, but goes to look for his partner after he learns that she has gone to the Rookwood Institute, the only building that seems to have power and into which the gang is regrouping, armed to the teeth. There, he fights with Saint John and finally puts an end to his plans.



  • The title of the novel is a direct reference to the song title of Bruce Springsteen's album Darkness on the Edge of Town, recorded from June 1977 to March 1978, the same timeline in which Hopper's story is set.[2]
  • The city-wide blackout on July 13, 1977 of the story is a callback to the real-life electricity blackout that occurred in New York city on the same day,[3] though the reason in the novel is fictionalized. The cover of the novel also hints at this incident with the tagline- "Lights out in the city that never sleeps".
  • The events of the holiday party briefly mentioned in the first chapter of the book were later shown in the comic Stranger Things Winter Special One-Shot.

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