Rating: 4/5

Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Adult

No. Pages: 576

ISBN: 9780751552867

The Casual Vacancy explores the consequences of the death of Barry Fairbrother, a member of the parish council of an idyllic English town called Pagford. The book follows the conflict between family members, local councillors and the rich and the poor.

The story started off fairly slowly and there are a lot of different characters so it takes some time to remember who they all are and how they are related to one another. Once I got the hang of who’s who, I really enjoyed this book. There isn’t much of a plot and it’s certainly not fast-paced, but it’s the characters more than anything else which drives the story. Each character has a lot of depth making them complex and real and whilst I didn’t particularly like many of them, their actions and motives are justified and always made me want to keep reading to see their consequences.

The Casual Vacancy is definitely an adult book with dark themes such as drug addiction, sex and violence. There is no individual protagonist and certainly no hero who will save the day. The novel is not about big plot twists or shocking and cataclysmic events, it is about everyday tragedy. Whilst Rowling talks about some more extreme situations that (hopefully) most people will never have to endure, each circumstance is relatable to a certain extent by everyone. This is because the characterisation is so good and Rowling dissects each of her characters so that as a reader, we are exposed to all of their emotions and how they change and are dealt with.

The ending of the book also really pleased me. It seemed to happen a bit faster than the rest of the story but Rowling wrapped everything up nicely and left me feeling content in knowing what happened to each character.