Review: The Casual Vacancy by J.K Rowling

Filed in 5 Stars , J.K Rowling , Review , The Winged Lover Posted on April 19, 2013 @ 7:00 am 7 comments

Format read: Hardback
Genre: Literary
Release Date: 27 September 2012
Length: 503 pages
Publisher: Little Brown
Formats available: Hardcover, audio book paperback, ebook
Purchasing Info: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Book Depository US | Book Depository (UK)
Book Blurb:


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?

My Thoughts:

J.K Rowling has wielded her wonderful magic yet again.

The Casual Vacancy follows the lives of the residents of Pagford, a town that would appear picturesque but in actual fact is no better than anywhere else. It explores the lives of its inhabitants and their intricately entwined lives, no matter how much certain residents try to distance themselves from others.

The Casual Vacancy is definitely an adult novel, there are no explicit details but Rowling explores the effects and aftermath of drugs, violence, rape, racism, bullying, depression and suicide among other rather controversial topics.

Although the pretext is centred around politics there isn’t really much of it in there, more the strategies of the candidates to defame one another and the problems each different character faces take lead in The Casual Vacancy.

I wouldn’t be able to tell you my favourite character as they were all unique in their own ways, even the more dislikeable characters of the group added to the story in their own way.
Rowling’s characters took a while to draw me in, purely because there were so many, but once we had a snippet from each of their varied lives, which took about 100 pages, I was hooked to the point that I was dreaming about it.

I have noticed many of the negative reviews have bemoaned the lack of a clear plot within The Casual Vacancy, but it really didn’t bother me. The Casual Vacancy is not about a means to an end, it is about the journey we take through the lives of her characters in their everyday lives, the trials they face that to some seem so normal but to others seem extremely foreign. It is about revelling in the joy that we get to read something new that Rowling has put to paper. Rather than wondering what the end will bring, we truly get to live within her world and experience what the characters are going through.

Others have complained about the ending not being definitive enough, but again, The Casual Vacancy wasn’t a beginning to end novel, it was a glimpse into the lives of the residents of Pagford and those lives did not end when the last page was turned, what to us was a novel was to them a mere chapter in their lives, we just saw the various directions those lives were about to take.

The fact that I can speak about Rowling’s world and characters in such a way is only further testament to her incredible writing, it is a style that I fear may never be repeated because it is so special. Rowling truly makes you believe that these people are out there, living this and we are merely reading a recount.

Anyone expecting another Harry Potter will not get what they are after. Many people probably won’t finish the book at all, but for those of us who are after a proper literary experience will be in their element. Rowling delivers a superb story, her unique writing style is one that isn’t dumbed down, when you finish a Rowling novel your vocabulary has expanded, your mind has a British accent and you start to think about certain issues plaguing the world, something that other modern day literature just cannot provide.

Rowling shaped my childhood with Harry Potter, and now she has given me this philosopher’s stone at the beginning of my adulthood. The Casual Vacancy will no doubt end up in English classrooms across the globe because it is a true literary masterpiece. I feel like I am being greedy by asking her to write another novel, but I need more.

Rowling is a gift to literature, to the world and most definitely to my imagination.


I give The Casual Vacancy 5 Stars

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

About Amanda

Amanda-Lee is a proudly addicted reader and writer from Sydney. She lives with her wonderful husband and their more like a baby than a kitten Hamish. Amanda-Lee has been blogging for 4 years now and is a lover of all genres, though she does have a tendancy to stray towards the weird and wonderful concotions in the paranormal and fantasy genres. In addition to being the Winged Lover on BLI she also runs the book blog StoryWings.

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Join the Discussion
  • Celine April 19, 2013 at 7:13 am

    What a lovely review of The Casual Vacancy! So many people didn’t enjoy it because they weren’t expecting anything literary. I didn’t love it as much as you did (to be honest I just don’t have the experience with literary fiction to truly appreciate it) but I just want to take her writing and wear it as a coat, it’s SO good. I really hope she does write another book some day (:

    • Amanda April 23, 2013 at 2:03 am

      Yes, I so wish she would write another!!!

      Her writing is to die for. She could write anything I reckon and it would be amazing.

  • fifi April 19, 2013 at 8:01 am

    thanks for the informative review..have been so curious about this book but was too lazy to read any review until yours 😀

    • Amanda April 23, 2013 at 2:03 am

      wow thank you! I’m humbled.

      it was a fantastic book. I highly recommend it 😀

  • Jackie April 25, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    I saw your post about trying to finish this one and just had to read the review. It could only be good 🙂

    I started this one a while ago, but it was at a time when nothing was really impressing me, so I put it aside. I had gotten to a point were the characters were starting to intrigue me though. I should take a look again (I keep saying that, but I swear, I WILL! 🙂 )

  • Global Point May 4, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    I had gotten to a point were the characters were starting to intrigue me though. I didn’t love it as much as you did (to be honest I just don’t have the experience I really hope she does write another book some day

  • Gudrun Johnson August 15, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    I totally agree. The Casual Vacancy is a great book. Initially I was frustrated because of the sheer numbers of characters. But with the help of a character map I found online I was able to enjoy the events of the book rather quickly. This book discusses the reality we live in today with all its problems. I admire JK Rowling’s command of the English language spoken on various social levels. I, too, am language richer after having read this book.
    I pity anybody who criticizes the foul language or description of porn. People, wake up! We all can and do access porn on the Internet…so do teens. And obscene words are in almost everybody’s vocabulary. Besides, the Weedons have to use profane language to make them real characters. Simon has to use profane language for us to dislike him. His obscene language make him what he is, a jerk. I also think that the description of the addict Teri is phenomenal. Rowling succeeds in depicting how addiction becomes a prison in people’s lives, a prison that is almost impossible to escape…
    And..Rowling had a deep inside into teenagers lives. They are described very realistically unhappy.

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