In The Middle of a Casual Vacancy


Casual Vacancy is the first non-Harry Potter novel written by JK Rowling after the famed series. I actually haven’t read the entire book, but I am halfway from finishing this novel. People often ask me if it was good when they learn that I am currently reading it. Now if you are expecting a book review, this post is not one. Aside from the fact that I am not yet done reading it, I am all too familiar and too biased to rate any book written by JK Rowling.  Also, I don’t find much joy in writing a conventional review for a book. I think that it’s up to the reader to say if the piece is good or not. So you might have to answer the question for yourself.

got this book last December but I was only able to read it just recently. The book didn’t start with that much action as compared to the HP series, The first few chapters weren’t exactly a page turner either.  But the characters slowly crept their way to catch and keep my attention in a very JK Rowling fashion 🙂

Unlike the fantasy series, this book does not show its readers a clear line of divide between the good and the bad guys. Just when I was about to hate on a character, the author provides a character history that does not exactly excuse the character but in some way explains their own logic and agenda. Imagine a Snape-like character from every turn but this time, the back story and the aftermath is more subtle and less dramatic.The good are just as much flawed as the seemingly bad ones.

The plot of the book was a great departure from  Harry Potter in terms of its focus  and setting. Entering into the magical realm of HP, one might be bound to be lost in the vastness of the world that the author has conjured. Pagford on the other hand is as small and as simple as it can get, on the surface at least. Despite the obvious differences, it is a wonder to discover that the underlying societal issues that are in Harry Potter were also the same issues that are tackled on this book, albeit more directly this time around.

Racial and social discrimination may be one of the recurring themes that we can expect from other future works of JK Rowling. Do not expect Pagford locals to actually shout out their own biases and outright bigotry (I don’t think “Mudblood” will ever be mentioned but there are certainly a lot of curse words on this novel); but the muggles are proving to be just as mean, conniving and sneaky as their magical counterparts in may occasions. I am so excited to see how everything pans out in the end.

Again, I can’t say that this book is a worth read. Its tone is too different from Harry Potter if that is what you are looking to see. The theme within the book will definitely make you reexamine your stance on certain issues in society that has often been overlooked.

This may not be the best book that JK Rowling has ever written but is surely has her mark all over it. How she injects her own advocacy and philosophy into her literary works is something to be admired.

I am forever a fan. 🙂

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9 thoughts on “In The Middle of a Casual Vacancy

  1. I read The Casual Vacancy as well. Being a huge Harry Potter fan, i was so excited that i pre-ordered it, but i was pretty disappointed – it seemed to me that she tried so hard to prove that she was more than just a children’s author that she sacrificed the plotline to all the adult/ explicit themes she crammed into it. Was that just me or did you notice it as well?

    1. I haven’t read The Casual Vacancy yet but one of my friends posted on Facebook that it was quite jarring to read J.K. Rowling, the author of their childhood hero, writing about such explicit themes and using such strong language. I hope the adult themes aren’t just thrown in gratuitously; I would expect more from such a talented author.

      1. Oh no, not gratuitously – it’s just that that the not-so-engaging plotline, coupled with the sheer number of mature themes, is disappointing and makes you question whether Rowling wrote this believing she had a point to prove.

      2. I think the book itself tried to deal with the theme in a very straightforward manner. I don;t think it was done just for the sake of doing so. I haven;t finished the book so I may change that stance. I do agree with windandlaughter about the “not-so-engaging plotline”, especially on the first part of the book. The buildup was definitely slower here.

    2. I was actually prepared to be disappointed by this book because I know HP is a very difficult book to follow even with Rowling’s caliber. I think I was able to enjoy the book more when I let go of any expectations that I have for the book. Your disappointment is understandable though. I don’t think I would be so interested to read the book if JK Rowling was NOT the author; we really can’t be faulted to expect more.

    1. Don’t worry I know a couple who has not as well. I actually lent my first HP book to a friend and she just slept on it for a year, literally! I thought she lost the book turns out it was just underneath her mattress. lol

  2. I’m currently on this book and I’m about… 70 pages in, myself. It is beyond incredibly boring even though I was quite startled by the language and some of the scenes. I can’t remember the last time I picked up the book. It’s funny because I don’t like starting another book until I’ve finished the current book but I put down Casual Vacancy twice now and if I can’t make it beyond my third attempt, I’m gonna have to shelve this book and move on.

    Another thing that annoys me is when people find out what I’m reading, it’s always the same statement: “You know it’s not like Harry Potter, right? There’s no wizards in it.” Gee, thanks. You saved me all the agony of flipping through the pages wondering where all the witches and wizards were hiding.

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