If you're thinking about reading this book in order to rekindle some of that Harry Potter magic, you'll be disappointed. It's definitely an adult novel with adult themes and content. I'm sure there are some Potter fans out there who have typecast J. K. Rowling as a naive, mild-mannered, proper Englishwoman who would be shocked by things like drugs and sex. If that's you, and you don't want that illusion shattered, then don't read this book. If you want an uncensored look at small-town English politics and what happens when class boundaries are blurred, what rural poverty looks like and its very real effects on children, teenagers, and adults, then this is an excellent book. Rowling really has achieved something remarkable in the Casual Vacancy--she has redefined herself as a novelist and I will gladly read anything else she writes. The Potter series will always stand alone as one of the greatest fantasy series of all time and I'm thrilled that Rowling has more to say.
*slight spoiler alert*
This is a very sad and painful book. After ruminating a bit on this novel, I feel like I should say that if you were touched by the magic of Harry Potter, and transported away from the realities of your day-to-day existence, then you owe it to Rowling to read this book. It serves as a counterpoint to the magical escape she crafted for the millions of people who found comfort and solace behind the walls of Hogwarts. Rowling lived the pain and suffering of the everyday people in The Casual Vacancy and it's clear to me that we would not have Potter without a Pagford and without The Fields.