Review: The Casual Vacancy

I put The Casual Vacancy on my 2015 TBR Challenge list because, after my love for the Robert Galbraith books, I decided I needed to step (back) all the way into JK Rowling’s adult fiction.


I will admit, I went in with some trepidation. After all, this is a far cry from Hogwarts, folks.

Further, I will admit that my mom’s commentary on this book had me worried. After she read this, I think the statement she emailed to Amanda and me was “there is not a happy sentence in that book.”

So, let’s back up for a second. The Casual Vacancy is about an open local government position in the (fictional) UK town of Pagford. After a councilman’s sudden death, there is a scramble to fill his seat between two factions – warring over the issue of whether the town is responsible for the nearby council estate (low income housing), its residents, and the addiction clinic it houses. This book is dark. Everyone, well everyone except for poor Barry Fairbrother who dies on the first page thus causing the casual vacancy, has some serious skeletons in the closet – or else skeletons on full display for all the world to see. But Rowling weaves these interconnected lives together in such a way that I could hardly put this book down. I would say I’ve never been so interested in a local government election, but that would be a lie – and a story for another day.

My verdict? Five Stars. My mom, as usual, is right, but that does not mean I didn’t love this book. Unhappy sentences, maybe, but what sentences! What characters! What a portrait of complex human relationships.

What a fucking ending.

Have you read The Casual Vacancy? What did you think? Are you planning to watch the mini-series?



  1. Totally. Especially “what a fucking ending” – I know! I’m so glad that you loved it and that you went into it knowing it wasn’t Hogwarts and being OK with that. I think that’s actually the crucial thing if you’re reading this – it’s not Harry Potter and that’s fine. Good even.

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