J.K. Rowling’s ‘Casual Vacancy’ Receiving Mixed Reviews

If J.K. Rowling was hoping her first adult novel Casual Vacancy would work some Harry Potter-style magic on critics, then she’s in for a fairly big surprise. Although the author’s first foray into grown-up literature is expected to sell mass quantities when it arrives on retail shelves today (September 27), the first reviews for the tome haven’t been too positive.

The Associated Press described J.K. Rowling’s Casual Vacancy as a book that’s not “easy to fall in love with, the way Harry Potter was with its charming, winning hero and his plucky friends, saving the world from evil with the help of a powerful spell or two.” Regarding the story’s characters, the AP wrote, ” [The story is] filled with often-unlikeable people, some of whom cross the line into terrible. They’re all unhappy in one way or another, even if the only people who know that are themselves, if that.”

The Daily Mail, meanwhile, was a bit harsher in their criticism of Casual Vacancy. “More than 500 pages of relentless socialist manifesto masquerading as literature crammed down your throat,” reviewer Jan Moir wrote.

Although the review found lurking at The New Yorker has a few snarky things to say about J.K. Rowling’s latest literary offering, the write-up wasn’t all bad. “The book’s political philosophy is generous, even if its analysis of class antagonisms is perhaps no more elaborate than that of ‘Caddyshack.’ And, as the novel turns darker, toward a kind of Thomas Hardy finale, it hurtles along impressively,” Ian Parker wrote.

Some critics, however, had a handful of overwhelmingly positive things to say about Casual Vacancy. Author Christopher Brookmyre expressed his thoughts and feelings about J.K. Rowling’s effort in The Telegraph. “One marvels at the skill with which Rowling weaves such vivid characters in and out of each other’s lives, rendering them so complex and viscerally believable that one finds oneself caring for the worst of them,” he wrote.

Regardless of whether or not critics are fond of the book, J.K. Rowling’s Casual Vacancy is going to sell buckets as soon as it lands on retail shelves. Expect the novel to be a popular gift among readers this holiday season as well.