The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

CasualVacanyTitle: The Casual Vacancy

Author: J.K. Rowling

Genre: Adult Fiction

Publisher: Sphere Books

Pages: 568

Rating: 4/5


When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils … Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

Like many people, I’m pretty much obsessed with the Harry Potter series and anything related to it. I was anxiously awaiting whatever J.K. Rowling would write next, and when I heard it would be realistic adult fiction, my enthusiasm for it only diminished a little. Then I started hearing so-so reviews for it, but again, my enthusiasm only sank a little. Now, after finally reading it, I can say it lived up to my expectations and actually managed to pass them a bit.

There is a lot of cursing in this book. There is drug use, sex, drinking, and people just generally being horrible people. There are almost no characters that didn’t frustrate me at least a little at once, and I just hated some characters from beginning to end. Some of the characters have strong accents that make it hard to read at times. It’s really freaking long. All of those are things that I’m sure have turned off some people, and quite possibly have turned me off as well, but it didn’t. Not even the gut-wrenching final part could change my mind about this book.

I think it’s the writing. As I reread Harry Potter every couple of years or so, I’m always struck by how well Rowling writes, and how she can turn simple, slightly boring scenes (like the opening chapter of The Sorcerer’s Stone) into charming little stories that have you quickly turning the page to see what’ll happen next. That’s what happened here, at least in my mind.

There were a lot of characters to keep track of, but somehow I manage to accomplish that for the most part. The point of view switches around to many different characters, and getting to know them through their internal thoughts, which still managed to shine through the third person narration, made it easier to keep track of them.

There was quite a bit crammed into this book, and the ending was so heart-breaking that some might find it  too depressing or will think that it was almost too convenient in a backhanded way. This book wasn’t perfect, but I really did enjoy it. The book was quite long, but it went really quickly for me, and every time I opened it up, I was interested in what I was reading. This book has made me even more a fan of J.K. Rowling, if that’s even possible.




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