Nyx Book Reviews

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Review: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

Title: The Casual Vacancy
Author: J.K. Rowling
Series: None
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

503 pages
Published September 27th 2012 by Little, Brown and Company

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We shouldn’t be comparing The Casual Vacancy with J.K. Rowling’s other work. We really shouldn’t. But it’s so hard not to.

The Casual Vacancy is a novel that explores the town of Pagford and its inhabitants. It follows several characters in their daily lives and in the struggle to fill the empty seat on the Pagford council.

I liked the book, and loved certain aspects of it. There is one thing we can all agree on though – Ms Rowling knows how to write. We can argue whether or not what she’s writing about is all that interesting; but that woman knows how to put words on to paper and make them something more. I was glad to see that her language and her ironic humour (although very subtle in this novel) persists outside the Harry Potter series.

The Casual Vacancy shows the petty, mean, sadistic and sometimes plain weird nature of human beings. It shows how their surroundings can form a person into something against their nature. It shows how tragedies come to pass. It also shows redemption, but in a realistic way. Overall I think all it tries to do is show us these things, the difference between rich and poor, the pretentious and the drug-addicts. It doesn’t form a judgement or condemnation – that’s for the reader to decide.

The reason I’m not giving this five stars is because I believe The Casual Vacancy could have been more. It’s a gripping story, yes. But I believe it could have been more extraordinary, more special, more something. Maybe Rowling will continue writing for an adult audience. If she did, I wouldn’t mind. Once she gets some more practice I think her adult books can be absolutely wonderful, just as her Harry Potter books are.


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 façade 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?

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