The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling – Book Review

Aside

The gritty story of Pagford lacks the Hogwarts magic in Rowling’s first published adult book.

The Casual Vacancy by J.K.Rowling: 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 facade 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? A big novel about a small town, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults. It is the work of a storyteller like no other.

Thanks to J.K.Rowling’s celebrity status and more than a little hype about this adult offering from the author of Harry Potter, The Casual Vacancy can be seen in book shops and supermarkets everywhere. For those looking for some more of the Potter magic you are looking in the wrong place.

This gritty narrative is told via a diverse selection of characters, with no real main protagonist. Instead the sleepy village of Pagford reveals its secrets from the point of view from overweight cafe owners to acne ridden teenagers. Introduced to drug addicts, sex in bushes and various forms of child abuse Rowling does everything she can to make sure this book is as different from Hogwarts is it can be.

The narrative flows well, with Rowling’s effortless story telling style being used to good effect. Yet it was punctuated by superfluous thesaurus raping that left me using the Kindle’s dictionary more than I would like to find out what she was going on about. One or two introductions to new words is what I expect from a book aimed at adults (and a reader who rarely ventures from YA) but it left me feeling more than a little but stupid at times, and could have been toned down a little so that it was more accessible to all.

With the age-old fight of what to do with the needy, whilst the rich are left to squabble about ‘higher’ council matters being displayed in a pleasant tongue-in-cheek way. I enjoyed the effortless flaunting of stereotypes  (think Hot Fuzz in a book, with less guns… actually no guns) in the setting of a pretty little village and council estate attachment, the blemish in Pagford’s facade.

As the book draws to a close, I was shocked by more than one of its twists and turns. Drawing a tear to my eye, and causing me to cringe in disgust as grown adults squabble like children, and the younger generation doing everything they can to add fuel to the fire. Yet I was left feeling very little happened. No epic battles or huge revelations, and very little character development over the dozens of names. To call it disappointing is all little extreme, it just missed a bit of magic!

I give it a:

7/10

The most expensive eBook I have ever purchased (at £11.99) I struggle to recommend this book to those who use e-readers. My suggestion would be to pick this up on offer in your local supermarket, and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Thanks for reading,

Love Rie x