I’m obsessed with the Harry Potter series. I’ve read each of those books more times then is ok to admit. I grew up with them, and because of this I feel a little like I know J.K. Rowling. I sometimes refer to her as “Jo” and I was so excited that she was writing a new book. In my mind, the worst case scenario was that it would be a total flop and she would go back to writing Harry Potter novels.
From the start, I was hooked. Casual Vacancy was as un-Potterish as it is possible to be. J.K. Rowling used the word “cunt” and talked about an erection. WHAT? Who is this author??
Casual Vacancy has the most unusual and dynamic cast of characters, each of them tragic in their own way. This is not a happy romp through an idyllic town but rather a town masking the war brewing underneath the surface. No, not Voldemort, this war is about ideals, money, and hidden desires. In a sense, this book is about the Dursley’s life, if Harry Potter did not exist. In fact, you might think Dudley Dursley is a much sweeter kid than Fats, one of the major players in Casual Vacancy.
If you can muddle through how quickly Jo switches character point of view, sometimes mid-paragraph, and begin to make sense of her writing style, if you can find it in your heart to root for some of these tragic, broken people, than you will read a book that takes you on the emotional ride of your life.
I have a habit of reading some sad books, so this was totally up my alley. If Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire broke your heart, then this book might be a little too intense for you.
If you wanted to know what was really going on in some of those empty classrooms in Hogwarts, or how the Dursley’s fit in with normal society, and enjoy books that are not action/adventure/mystery but a bit of a slow build, then you’ll love The Casual Vacancy.
Next week: a plug and a book review, all in one!