Down The Book Cubbyhole

The Geeky Adventures of a Bookish Girl

The Casual Vacancy — J.K. Rowling


“I’m a writer and I will write what I want to write,” says J.K. Rowling preemptively.

Incontestably, Rowling’s spick-and-span publication has been painstakingly exiled from the hocus-pocus of the Harry Potter oeuvre. No cloaks, no wands, no fantastical beasts, no Quidditch; but purely mundane Muggle universe. (Yes, you’ve read that right.) So folks, don’t be expecting anything magical in here.

Pagford, a considerably queer and fractious English township, has latterly lost its predominant councilor, Barry Potter Fairbrother—a stalwart face of a meritorious superior. With the town already in the midst of intrigues and controversies prior to his death, the conceited Mollison family pursues to gain the favor of many to get rid of the Fields—a low-income community inhabited by the impoverished and the drug-addled, which, throughout Barry’s leadership, consumed much of his affairs. Not everyone agrees, and so a myriad of Pagford’s citizens are meaning to fill the vacancy. The election heats up when scandalous yet concrete accusations starts appearing in the council website, posted by “the Ghost of Barry Fairbrother.”

J.K. Rowling’s divergence from the world of children’s fantasy steers us into a whole different path—reality. The little town of Pagford tours us into its fairness and ideals, as well as its deformities and crookedness. There were the pot-stirrers; the seemingly crude and tacky citizens who were the garrison of rumors; the self-mutilating, the goldbrick and the lecherous teenagers; the prideful families; those who live their whole lives in falsehood; and a whole lot more. This is what’s great about the Casual Vacancy,” Rowling is more frank and blueprints the realities of life—the flaws, the ugliness of human nature, and the reasons behind human fallibility.

The large Harry Potter fan base may find it sour for their taste, many would retire from their loyalties, but more than a few would eventually call themselves fans after reading it. To be honest, I found it boring and tedious. I almost gave up. But since I have this rule “no books left unfinished or unread,” I continued and persevered. The little events that I found boring at first lead to the final climax which was definitely the gem of the story. Barry’s death, I presume, is just a pretext in starting the story. It touches the complexities and complicacies of the world of politics, where everybody is right and everybody is wrong.

The Casual Vacancy isn’t plot-driven, but character-driven—more like a character study. Rowling delves into each character using the third person in an omniscient point of view. There were clearly no protagonists and antagonists in the story and each were given distinct voices and profound depth as well.

The writing was beautiful, totally J.K. Rowling-esque. As for the language, it was contemporary mixed with slang.

The ending for me wasn’t abrupt like for some people because I think everybody found disclosure within themselves.

Overall, it wasn’t as bad as people think. Those who read this just because J.K. Rowling’s name on it, and those who were constantly complaining that “I was duped!” and “This is not Harry Potter!” should all die. (Seriously? I’m just kidding.) And is the feud among liberals and conservatives, any different to the war between good and evil in Harry Potter?


Rating: ★★★✰✰


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