J.K. Rowling’s new book ‘The Casual Vacancy’ leaves Potter fans as empty as its title


Harry Potter fans thirsted for more writing from J.K. Rowling after the 2007  release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”

But when “The Casual Vacancy,” Rowling’s new book, hit bookstores on Sept. 27, some BYU students expressed disappointment.

Jim Law, a sophomore majoring in environmental science and French, downloaded the book on his Kindle right when it came out. Even though Law loves Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling, he said he has not been impressed with “The Casual Vacancy” so far.

“I’m surprised at how vulgar it is, especially with the language and adult content,” Law said. “I knew that it was for adults, but I thought that it just meant it was not going to be as entertaining for children as ‘Harry Potter’ was. I didn’t realize it was going to be adult-only content that is inappropriate for children.”

Chris Bunker

The 512-page book takes place in the town of Pagford, England. Barry Fairbrother, member of the Parish Council, dies. The plot centers around how the town deals with his death and the election to fill the empty seat on the council. The adult content of the book includes sexual references, profanity, prostitution and a heroin addiction.

Law is approximately a third of the way through the book but said it does not compare to the “Harry Potter” series.

“It’s good; it’s not great,” Law said.  “I’m not disappointed because I knew that it wasn’t going to be like ‘Harry Potter’ so I wasn’t expecting it to be the same caliber. I’m mostly still reading it now because it’s J.K. Rowling and I trust that it will get good by the end.”

Catelyn Gentry, a clarinet performance major from Kirbyville, Texas,  decided to read the first few pages of the $35 book at a bookstore before making the decision to purchase it. After reading the first 30 pages, Gentry said the book had already let her down.

“A  major amount of the price definitely comes from her name,” Gentry said.

While she sees parallels in the writing style between “Harry Potter” and “The Casual Vacancy,” Gentry quickly saw that the book would have little in common with the “Harry Potter” series.

“I knew it was going to be an adult novel and I knew it was going to be way different than ‘Harry Potter,’ but I was hoping she would still keep it clean,” Gentry said. “That was not the case.”

Gentry said one of the elements she enjoyed in “Harry Potter” was that the characters faced adversity but it was handled in a decent way.

“I thought she handled the darkness of characters really well in the ‘Harry Potter’ series,” Gentry said. “She knew how to get that across without blatantly saying disgusting or vulgar things or even using language like she does in this one. It definitely lost that innocence.”

Hannah Hyde, 20, from Boise, Idaho, has plans of reading “The Casual Vacancy” because of her love for Harry Potter. After hearing the lukewarm reviews of the book, she is not as eager to read it.

“I’ve heard it’s surprisingly vulgar,” Hyde said. “I’m less excited to read it, but I will still read it.”

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