Saturday 8 December 2012

Review - The Casual Vacancy by J.K Rowling

The Casual VacancyThe Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time Taken To Read - 3 days

Blurb From Goodreads


When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty fa├žade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils ... Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

My review

This is a whopping huge hardback, 503 pages long. The first thing I would say is go into this reading it as a new author rather than this is the Harry Potter writer as the content and writing couldn't be further apart. The story is based around a small town, Pagford, and follows the lives of many of the residents. Barry Fairbrother dies suddenly and the town is in shock, however his death leaves open a seat on the parish council and soon filling that becomes the main focus. The small town is ripped apart by this one event as the battle for the seat begins.

For me this story could have been two, one concentrating on the younger main characters and that of the adults and their interest in the council seat. There is a lot of swearing throughout and a number of issues covered including angst, secrets, emotions, violence, self harm, betrayal and underage sex to mention a few.

At some points I felt some of the issues could have been left out but were included to show this is an adult themed book and a far cry from her previous Harry Potter books. There also was more characters than at times I could keep up with (although once your in a few hundred pages you get a better feel for them). Because there is so many, I feel that the focus on some of them and their issues where brushed over or only briefly touched on. Had the book just been classed as a novel or some of the characters cut there could have been more substance given to others and made more of an impact on the reader and story.

That said I did enjoy the unraveling of the towns secrets and petty goings on, especially in the aftermath of the death of a young man. I can't say I loved any of the characters but I did like Krystal and would have loved to have had more focus on her. Despite having a foul mouth, loose moral and low self esteem with a bad attitude, her character had depth although only really shown when dealing with her younger sibling.

I felt the book was fairly slow going for a good part of it, the start kicks off quick with a death which is the catalyst for most of the following story, however come the end few chapters it went into overdrive and I didn't want to put the book down. The turnabout of events is rather shocking, especially as the book had been fairly paced throughout. If you enjoy small town scandal and don't mind cursing, underage sex and teenage angst you will enjoy this story. 3/5 for me, I would read J.K. Rowling again, I loved Harry Potter and although this is a different level altogether I still enjoyed the writing and story.

View all my reviews


  1. This sounds totally different from her usual work. I loved the HP series so I want to read this at some point since I'm a fan of Rowlings. Great review.

  2. I am a fan of JK Rowling as well and was excited to read The Casual Vacancy. I didn't go into it expecting it to be like HP at all, but I did expect a story that held my attention, which, unfortunately, it didn't. I tried several times to read it but struggled with it so it went unfinished. The story was far too grim for my liking and all the language and situations pushed me even further away. I rarely don't finish a book but The Casual Vacancy was one I couldn't.

    I'll gladly read another J.K. Rowling book, though. She is a gifted writer. It's the story itself that I didn't like.

  3. I have neither read any Harry Potter books nor watched any of the movies, but this seems like an interesting read. It sounds like it's very cumbersome though and it's a shame that it wasn't condensed to be a better read.
    I doubt if I will struggle through so many pages.

  4. The storyline of this doesn't really appeal to me but I have to admit I am tempted to give it a go just out of curiosity because of the JK Rowling factor! Don't think I'll be picking it up very soon though. Nice review.


  5. I've seen such mixed reviews of this book but to be honest I do still really want to read it at some point. Thanks for reviewing it for us Lainy.

  6. I've heard a lot of good and bad about this book. But I haven't yet read a review that made me say "I should read that!" Your review confirms my opinion yet again. :) Maybe someday I'll try it out, but it looks like there are so many better books to read first!

  7. I know what you mean about it almost being two different books. It started off almost absurdly quaint, talking about the council seat (or "casual vacancy" I guess) and I was expecting it to be funny, but in a subtle way. Like some of those British books or movies that take place in small villages where everyone takes little things VERY seriously. But then when it got more into the younger characters, it got pretty dark and sad, and quite gritty. I did care about some of the characters, but I was surprised by what I thought was a change of tone. In the end I felt undecided about whether or not I even liked the book.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog too! I notice you read a lot of thrillers. Have you read Paul Cleave? He's my go-to thriller writer of the moment.

  8. Oh and I JUST got Cuckoo's Calling out from the library (the mystery that J.K. Rowling wrote under a pen-name) so I can't wait to see if I like this post-Harry Potter book of hers more than the last!


Book Soulmates

Well from I first started reviewing

Get your own free Blogoversary button!

More Competitions available at

Blog Archive