Title: The Casual Vacancy
Author: J. K. Rowling
Page Count/Review Word Count: 568
I have no idea why I put this off for so long. Rowling is as sharp as ever here, blending the creativity that she first showed in Harry Potter with a darker look on the real world, as she shows in her work under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith. At the risk of simplifying such a stunning and complex book, it’s about the small town of Pagford in which a councillor dies and leaves a vacant seat on the Parish Council.
Some of the older characters get embroiled in the ensuing election, all fighting for their own unique agendas, which Rowling reveals slowly and expertly throughout the narrative. But it’s the youngsters that interested me, especially because I feel like the author captured my own generation perfectly, despite not being a native.
I read this book as part of my 24-hour Dyslexia Action charity readathon, and I can honestly say that even though it took me around six hours to finish it, I was never bored and for the majority of the book I was actively participating in the story, coming up with my own theories to describe erratic behaviour and deciding how I might have ended it. The Casual Vacancy was one of those rare books which kept me hooked from start to finish, and while I’m too manly to shed tears over a novel, I did feel my eyes beginning to moisten towards the end.
Or perhaps that was because I’d been reading for twelve hours. Either way, I have no qualms about heartily recommending The Casual Vacancy to pretty much anyone, except for little kids who are still working their way through the first Harry Potter books. This is a distinctly adult novel, both because of the story itself and the themes that it contains, but it makes for a great addition to the library of anyone who’s grown up with Rowling, whether they were reading her stories at the time or not. And let’s face it, it was pretty difficult to avoid them.
This book hasn’t achieved the same level of recognition as the Harry Potter series, but I have a feeling that that would always be the case. Don’t let that put you off, though – if this had been published pseudonymously, and if Rowling hadn’t been caught out, people would still have raved about how good it was. In fact, seeing as from what I understand, the novel didn’t do well with the critics, I’d guess a lot of that negativity is because nobody could get over the fact that it was Rowling.
She even has a knack for sprinkling her work with swear words – most authors make them seem unnecessary when they slip them in to their work, particularly in dialogue. Irvine Welsh is the only writer that I know of who makes swearing look completely natural, all of the time – Rowling isn’t in his league, but then she hasn’t had as much practice. All I know is that she’s better than most, and this novel is better than most of its competition.
So what are you waiting for? Whether you’ve read Rowling before or not, if you’re in the mood for a gripping thriller and a good, long, unputdownable read, you’ve come to the right place – buy it now.