When you open Casual Vacancy by J.K Rowling, you think the world has been set right again. Finally people can focus on a real writer and not that ‘Fifty Shades of Garbage’ that everyone and their mother seem to be gushing over. You expect to place yourself at the hands of a trusted storyteller and an old friend.

Oh, but Hedwig, I have a feeling we are not in Hogwarts anymore.

Casual Vacancy had it's debut a couple of weeks ago to mixed reviews, most of which haven’t been the best. It’s hard for a Harry Potter fan to be objective about anything that Rowling has written, but can you really still love her blindly if it’s just plain bad writing?

The story is set in the small idyllic town of Pagford, where councilman Barry Fairbrother drops dead in a golf club creating a “casual vacancy” - that’s the technical term for these things, apparently - for someone to fill. Fairbrother, it is soon revealed, was working on a housing project on the outskirts of town called The Fields which wasn't being too well received by the town’s gossipy, stuffy, upper middle class residents, and upon the news of this death, it’s a scramble for his place in the council to either continue or abolish these plans. Will it be Colin Wall, deputy headmaster of Winterdown Comprehensive, who wants to continue Barry's good work? Or will it be Miles Mollinson, leader of the group that would turn its back on The Fields? It might even be Simon Price, who's under the impression that Barry was taking kickbacks, and wants to do the same.

Sounds dull, doesn't it? That’s because it is. It’s not fair on JK Rowling to compare this to Harry Potter - let’s face it though; fans are going to be doing it anyways - but even if you start it with an open mind, it still won’t change the fact that the book is quite boring and somewhat badly written. Aren't you supposed to be getting better at this after seven books, Ms Rowling?

The redeeming qualities come from the teenagers and their drama filled gossip girl-esque (but without the couture and the Louboutins) lives, this is where the book gets somewhat interesting - but not till page 242!

The book is number 2 on the New York Times bestseller list (but then again, all three of E. L. James books are in the top 6) so it’s worth a read if you have nothing better to do this coming  vacation. Just don’t be too disappointed because it’s about as far from Harry Potter as you can possibly get.


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