Another Review at MyShelf.Com

The Casual Vacancy
J K Rowling

Little, Brown
27 September 2012/ ISBN 9781408704202
General Fiction / Contemporary / Somerset, England
Amazon || Amazon UK

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde

When fortysomething councilor, Barry Fairbrother drops dead, it is a death that takes everybody by surprise. Suddenly, there is a casual vacancy on the parish council to be filled, which is wanted for many reasons by quite a number of people. But this means there is also strife, not only between the well-off inhabitants of picturesque Pagford and the denizens of murky council estate the Fields, but within families too. Nothing will be quite the same again…

Nor quite the same with readers who grew up with Harry Potter! This is certainly a total change from the escapism of Hogwarts to a warts-and-all pitch-black social satire. There is the feeling from page one that this is a book Ms Rowling has wanted to write for a long time, and demonstrates amply that she can write more than YA fantasy. She paints a bleak and uncomfortably realistic picture of a place at war with itself and its neighbors over a council seat, and the power to realize ambitions. Perhaps tainting all this realism a little is the fact there is hardly anybody in the book who is even pleasant and what emerges in many cases is a larger-than-life rogue’s gallery of grotesques. We know there are people out there like this, but here there is a large quantity all within a small space! The Fields is a horror, drawn large as a sort of hellmouth to gaze into, although in its way, no worse than the smug and warring middle class families from Pagford. There are a few characters to sympathize with, most notably Krystal, whose unhappy and poverty-stricken life and bursts of violence is offset by her love and care for her equally neglected little brother. To its detriment, this is a very long book and at times it flags, sags, and becomes repetitive. A bit of judicial editing would have done wonders for what is essentially a powerful book, difficult to define, and equally difficult to put down. Ms Rowling has more adult fiction planned and I look forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

Reviewers Note: Some sex and drug abuse

UK Reviewer: Rachel Hyde's work can be found in Sewing World, Sew Hip, Popular Crafts and other magazines. Her craft blog is Green Thoughts
Reviewed 2012