The Casual Vacancy

JK Rowling

Little Brown

9780316228541ISBN: 9781408704202

RRP: $39.99

Genre: General Fiction

Key Words: Politics, Secrets

Published: 27th October 2012

Reviewer: Kylie Calwell

Barry Fairbrother collapses and dies leaving a vacancy on the local council. This tragic event has far reaching effects that no-one could have guessed at as surprising people come out of the woodwork to try and take his place. There is more going on than a simply council election though with the town clearly divided into two sides over the issue of the Fields housing estate. Barry championed the cause and Howard Mollison strongly opposed it, now Howard sees the chance to seize control if he can get the right person elected to fill the vacancy. Barry’s friends have other ideas. The battle turns nasty though when secrets start to be revealed on the council website by an unknown source. Who is it that has access to the most hidden parts of the councillors and candidates lives? And what is their motivation.

This was a book I approached with both anticipation and dread, JK Rowling trying her hand at an adult book. For me this didn’t work. With short snippets focussing around many different characters it took a while to get all the relationships sorted out in my head. You can definitely see the town she paints but it is a very generic image – quaint township with a decrepit housing estate. The really big problem for me though was that none of the characters were likeable. There are no really good guys or bad guys, they are just people but I struggled to find one with redeemable features. The story itself is marginally interesting but the telling of it seemed to miss something.

If you like politics, backstabbing and small British communities then you may well enjoy this, for me it was all just a bit bland.

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