The Casual VacancyThe Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. The Casual Vacancy has got to be one of the best books I have ever read. I am rather pleasantly surprised to feel this way, because I didn’t much care for J.K. Rowling when I read her early Harry Potter books to my then school-aged daughter. I’d found her writing as dry and unmoving as her stories were imaginative. (And if the lawsuits brought against her are to be believed, the originality of those stories is questionable.)

But I’ve got to give her well-earned props for The Casual Vacancy. (I read it on the heels of Wally Lamb’s We Are Water, which I enjoyed a lot, but somehow didn’t rouse in me the immediate impulse to write a review. I am puzzled why such a well-written story didn’t quite move me the way this one did, seeing as how Wally Lamb is one of my favorite authors. But I’ll leave those musings for another day.)

Rowling’s characters are fascinating, her writing impeccable. This acerbic, fast-paced story practically leaps from the page, with accents so crisp and realistic you can just about hear them. Her characters’ oozing emotions and petty pretexts are so raw they all but claw into you like Sukhvinder’s (one of the teenage characters) self-inflicted razor cuts. The scenes move so seamlessly from one to the next—from one part of town to another—it’s like watching a movie. I can’t wait for the BBC series, which I understand is under contract.

J.K Rowling is either an incredible talent, or has faultless editors at her disposal. Either way, this is one ride not to be missed.

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