Mountain Goats' singer/songwriter John Darnielle has long been praised for his lyrical storytelling ability, so it wasn't a huge surprise when he finally started publishing fiction, beginning with 2008's Master of Reality, a Black Sabbath-inspired entry into the 33 1/3 book series. He followed this up in 2014 with Wolf in White Van, a psychological thriller of sorts that focused on the disfigured creator of a mail-in RPG, and which was nominated for a National Book Award. Universal Harvester followed in 2017, another horror-tinged exploration of disaffected youths, this time centered on a video store in Nebraska in the 90s.
Darnielle has always been thematically interested in stories that explore underdogs and social outcasts struggling in and with some sort of darkness; you can see this reflected in his songs, and his novels. And now he's announced another book, which sounds like a perfect amalgamation of the ones that came before. Enter: Devil House.
Gage Chandler is descended from kings. That's what his mother always told him.
Now, he is a true crime writer, with one grisly success―and movie adaptation―to his name, along with a series of subsequent lesser efforts that have paid the bills but not much more. But now he is being offered the chance for the big break: To move into the house―what the locals call "The Devil House"―in which a briefly notorious pair of murders occurred, apparently the work of disaffected 1980s teens. He begins his research with diligence and enthusiasm, but soon the story leads him into a puzzle he never expected―back into his own work and what it means, back to the very core of what he does and who he is.
John Darnielle has long been known to millions of Mountain Goats fans as a storyteller of uncanny sensitivity and mythic power. In Universal Harvester and Wolf in White Van before it, he has proven himself a novelist of the highest order. With Devil House, Darnielle rises above with a novel that blurs the line between fact and fiction, that combines daring formal experimentation with a gripping tale of crime, writing, memory, and artistic obsession.
Even if you're not a Goats fan, it sounds like a neat literary horror/thriller story. I'm not sure when Darnielle started working on this new book, but it comes on the heels of a weird pandemic year that saw his band release three new albums, so props to him for cranking out so much work in these uncertain times.!