Book Review: The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling

I finished The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling. I wanted to be able to give it a glowing review. I adored the Harry Potter Series and if I hadn’t read them, this might have been a bit easier for me to read. And possibly enjoy. It’s not that I hated it. I found it hard to read. Harder to digest. And it will be impossible to forget. There are going to be passages in this book that I revisit in my mind over the next weeks, months and possibly years. And maybe that was what she wanted when she wrote it. I think if I lived somewhere that didn’t resemble Pagford so very much, I might have seen the humor that others claimed to find. The small town politics, prejudices and all out shenanigans just left me sad.There is absolutely no limit to what people will do TO each other. None.

It started out dark and gloomy and then became sad and morose. Don’t get me wrong, the characters are real. Too real at times. Too familiar. She runs the gamut of human disorders, dysfunctions, emotions, depravity, disillusionment and left me feeling something I had never felt reading a book. I thought of Kneadful Things, Pride & Prejudice, Trainspotting, Very Bad Things. Yes, I know that is quite a list of references – but if you read it you will understand what I mean.

There is no magic here. No higher power, good or evil. Little reference to a church other than a place to hold a funeral or to point out a geographical location. There’s not underlying horror or force causing people to do the tragic things they do. There is just raw, unbridled human behavior. And it is brutal. If you read it, you will inevitably ask yourself which character you are most like. And you won’t like the answer. No matter what it is.

Now in writing this little review, I realize how good this book might actually be when I have fully absorbed it. It might even be great. I thought reading the Harry Potter series that JK Rowling has to be a genius. I have never enjoyed a series of books more in my life. I loved the character development (less so in TCV), the dysfunction (which is mild compared to TCV) and I felt like I knew who these characters were. I didn’t want to know any of the characters in The Casual Vacancy. At times wanted them to all get what they deserved, save one or two, only it was hard to tell who deserved what.

If you have never read other books by JK Rowling, are not offended by extremely colorful language, have any knowledge of British slang, are not turned off by corrupt politics, broken families, drug addiction, pedophilia, incest, rape, abuse and death, then by all means, jump in with both feet. If you are, then proceed but with extreme caution. By page 15, JK Rowling pulled out all the stops with crude language using words even I find hard to say. But nothing was over done in that sense. Very real and after you get to know a few of the citizens of Pagford, necessary. Don’t worry about the confusing number of characters. By mid-book, you will know them, sympathize with them, hate them – but you will be drawn in to see how it all ends.  And it ain’t pretty.


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This sounds like something that would just depress me at school. MAYBE DURING THE SUMMER, THOUGH.

Oh boy, what a book Susan!! I am not sure if I want to read this or not! You have really given me food for thought. I suppose we look at reading books as a form of escape from the doldrums of daily life, or as inspiration, entertainment, to be thought provoking. Not sure that I want to escape to “this” neighborhood! Thanks for your wonderful insight and for speaking the truth! One of the things I love about you. You are always honest with us. Love you loads! xxoo

Thank you Susan… for your insight….love it that you are posting !

Reading and hugs