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the casual vacancy The Casual Vacancy by J.K Rowling | Rating:★★★☆☆

“It was strange how your brain could know what your heart refused to accept.”

The Casual Vacancy’s tagline is “A Big Novel About A Small Town" and really, there is no better description for J.K Rowling’s debut in adult fiction.

Because it is just that. And, hey, no complaints here!

Admittedly, it took me a couple months to finish reading it because while it does intrigue you to know the happenings of a diverse medley of characters, it doesn’t always keep your attention for long periods of time. At least not for me. And again, taste is subjective — so this could just be me.

Our story opens with the death of Barry Fairbrother and follows a selection of characters of all ages in the months following his death as they try to find somebody to fill his seat. Each character offers their own look into this small town in various ways that are sometimes hard to fully follow.

You do get the hang of it eventually.

These characters will also deal with a batch of mysterious messages left on the Parish Council’s online forum that are written by a mysterious source, sadly named The Ghost of Barry Fairbrother (which gives his widow an unfortunate bit of stress she doesn’t need). Each message is written by different characters and is meant to throw particular people out of the running to fill Barry’s chair on the council.

A good portion of the characters in this novel come about as self involved and completely unlikable if I’m being honest. I find that the most loveable of the characters are two teenage girls — Krystal Weedon and Sukhvinder Jawanda.

I should warn that there are some triggering events in the novel that include a character falsely remembering molesting a child (again: falsely. This never happened.), a rape and some events involving self harm. I’d say the most graphic and triggering would be that of the character self harming themselves, but to be on the safe side, if these events trigger you: Google the pages that these events happen on so you can skip or skim through those pages.

As we’re familiar with in J.K Rowling’s work, there isn’t always a happy ending for specific characters and that is really an unfortunate thing to report. However, life doesn’t always have happily ever afters and that’s what makes this novel feel so real.

While it seems at times drawn out and as if nothing’s happened, the novel is a good read and offers a narrative that is thought provoking. Though some of the characters became unlikable and fickle to me, that doesn’t mean they will to you — each character is different and may be something you are drawn to when it comes to fictional worlds.

Give it a shot and try to not give up on it too soon. It may take a while to get into or a couple reads to really get something from it, but it is certainly a nice read and shows just how talented we know J.K Rowling’s work to be.

She certainly knows how to tell a story.

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