The Casual Vacancy

I tried not to think about the fact that The Great Rowling wrote The Casual Vacancy, (which was difficult since her cheeky smile was forever peeping out at me from the back cover).

The line I’ve been giving my friends is that this isn’t a ‘great’ book, but it’s definitely ‘good’. More than anything in The Casual Vacancy, I loved the characters: they were real. Rowling gives everyone in this novel a strong voice, from the junkies with their broken spelling and profanity, to the upper class twits who hardly ever say what they mean. I felt like I knew these people, so kudos to Rowling for that.

Also, kudos to her for writing some great lines and coming up with fantastic images that are scattered throughout the dialogue and descriptions. Her writing style is very easy to read and you don’t do a lot of hard work. Yet every so often there was a line that made me laugh or that, as a writer, made me practically jump up and yell “YES!” (because that’s what writers do when we have a wordgasm).

However, the plot moves slowly. A lot of pages are spent diving into character’s lives and unravelling them (which I didn’t mind, it kept my attention and was necessary to give more impact to later events). If you like books that are off and running from the get-go, maybe this one isn’t for you.

Because most of the heavy, heart-wrenching action happens in the last 50-odd pages. The value of this is that when the intensity kicked in, I wasn’t prepared for it and seeing some of my favourite characters go through some terrible things made the story so much more emotional (curse you, Rowling, why do you always have to make me cry!).

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Overall, I enjoyed this book. I got wrapped up in the characters, their situations, their lives and I’m still hearing Krystal Weedon’s voice yelling in my head. If you don’t mind the slow start and want to get lost in some interesting characters, get The Casual Vacancy.


Kyra Bandte is at UOW studying creative writing and English literatures (all things writing, all the time). She’s always buying books faster than she can read them, but she’ll get to them all one day. Likes include coffee, board games, overcast skies, the colour green and throwing nouns together. Dislikes include cliches. 

Kyra is also completing a Copywriting and Public Relations Internship at the Co-op as part of her course.

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