The Casual Vacancy, J. K. Rowling
To say this is worlds away from Harry Potter is an understatement. This is a modern-day,
When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?
I think that blurb is pretty dumb, and makes the story sound like a petty intrigue and a cheap read. I suppose the townsfolk of Pagford can be very petty, but the novel is not; I found it to be well-written and interesting, even though, plot-wise, there is very little action until the last quarter of the book. I'm not a plot-driven bibliophile anyway, but a character-driven one, and they are well-developed here (I should note they aren't really like-able, but there is a comedy to the book that keeps it from being a downer). When you get to the last 25% of the book, it's like an explosion of activity, and one dramatic event is seen from the perspective of almost every character that results in a fast-paced, page turning conclusion. One of my favorite reviews said: "Rowling is relentlessly competent: all these people and their hatreds and hopes are established and mixed together. Secrets are revealed, relationships twist and break, and the book rolls toward its awful, logical climax with aplomb." I found that to be so appropriate, and I hope it encourages you to give it a go.