The tiny town of Pagford is in shock over the death of Barry Fairbrother. As an individual who devoted his time and effort to the impoverished, he was much loved in the community. But in the seemingly peaceful environment of Pagford, there is a town at war. Barry seat in the Parish Council is open and there is an election to take his place. His death determines the fate of every individual. Teenagers, parents, wives, husbands, teachers, pupils, rich and poor.
The Casual Vacancy is the first adult novel by JK.Rowling after nearly four years of the last Harry Potter book. Some fans of the series called the novel ‘a form of torture’ and wished she revisited the immensely popular saga that started her career, but I call it an intense character-driven novel.
Of the many things Rowling is capable of doing in the literary field, her talent to create well-rounded characters with fabulous names must surely come out on top. Almost three-quarters of the book focuses on characters development and I can understand how that might not appeal to some readers. Unlike her quick-paced franchise, this novel is a combination of potent characters who explore ideas of substance abuse, cutting, prostitution, neglect, social politics, power struggles, rape, fear, selfishness, poverty, and betrayal (with a lot of profanity).
This book has many of the same elements and themes as the Harry Potter series but the fans who expect a fairy tale ending will receive a nasty surprise. There are several negative reviews, but JK.Rowling herself stated that this is nothing like the Harry Potter series. You can’t compare the two. They are like apples and oranges.
It is not about a grand battle between good and evil, but rather a novel about the unintentional cruelty of the mundane human life; rumors, and secrets that are hidden behind locked doors, the masks that people wear and the faces that we never get to see, suffering and hope, that are hidden beneath layers of lies and incredulity.
The characters are extremely realistic. A lot of people have said this, but there is simply no other way to describe it. There aren’t any ‘goody-goody’ characters that always do the right thing, nor is there any character that is driven by completely cruel intentions. No black and white. Everyone is on the grey scale.
The Casual Vacancy will not be for everybody, but if you like a slow-paced character-driven novel, this is for you. With this novel, Rowling has proved that her previous books were not a one-huge-popular-series wonder. This woman can write.
If you read this book you will: laugh, smile, cry, and come back for more.