A lack of magic in ‘The Casual Vacancy’


Veronika Dvorakova, Art Director/Columnist

There are few parallels between JK Rowling’s new book The Casual Vacancy and the Harry Potter series.

Accepting that Rowling’s new novel is intended for a different audience than the Potter books and has nothing to do with Hogwarts is the first step to enjoying the more twisted story of the residents of Pagford.

The town of Pagford has a sense of claustrophobia seeing as everyone knows too much about each other. It is a place full of antagonism, sexual frustration, and ill-disguised racism.

Within the first handful of pages, the plot is set in motion when the local hero, Barry Fairbrother, falls down dead creating a “casual vacancy” in the towns parish council. This spot became the catalyst of the war as members of the town fight amongst each other.

The complex plot runs like clockwork; like the Potter novels, it is efficiently organised beneath its busy surface.

Rowling left magic aside as she attempted to deal with the world as it is, not as she wishes it could be.

Unlike the Potter books, The Casual Vacancy is not appropriate for all audiences. The younger characters get up to things that Harry, Ron, and Hermione were never associated with; taking drugs, self-harming, having grimy casual sex, and singing along to Rihanna.

The vulgarity and bluntness of Rowling’s depiction of a realistic muggle society may be unsuitable younger audiences however also aides with emphasise the necessity of taking responsibility of others.