Review of “Casual Vacancy”

For those readers who grew up reading J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, switching away from her world of magic and adolescence to the small town world of Pagford is like hearing your favorite band from high school’s new album- the voice is the same, but it’s grown up. The issues Rowling portrayed through her latest novel proved to be a far cry from any Harry and his friends faced, which is why I suspect so many people have negatively commented on this book.

Although initially slow, the plot revolved neatly on the vacancy left by Barry Fairweather, picking up pace as Rowling pushed through the stories of the adults and the adolescents in Pagford. The power struggle is gripping, and the story rapidly pulls the reader in, emotionally and mentally and demands a response.

Layering the plot with class struggle, marital problems, the angst and trouble of teenagers, domestic abuse, and the basest of humanity’s qualities, Rowling somehow manages to tie it all off with a bittersweet ending. This novel was deliciously familiar and a literary piece of genius (as always), but not appropriate for younger teens or children.

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