Harry Potter and The Casual Vacancy

Tamora Rosenbaum

The last of the Harry Potter books and movies might have spelled the end of an era for fans of all ages around the world, but it wasn’t the end of J.K Rowling’s writing career. The author of the astonishingly popular young adult series is trying her hand at writing for a different audience, adults, with her new novel The Casual Vacancy that will hit bookstore shelves Thursday, Sept. 27.

Like so many of our generation (including myself), Lindsay Hompe, a senior nursing and Spanish major from Willmar, Minn. grew up reading the Harry Potter books as they were released. She received the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, as a gift when she was 10 years old.

“I didn’t want to read it at first, just because everyone else was so crazy about it,” she said. “My mom insisted that I at least try reading it though, and I just fell in love.” 

Hompe said the books caught her imagination because they were so unlike anything else she’d read at that age. She felt a connection with the characters and describes them as being “well-developed.” As she left the theater after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, she got a little teary-eyed.

“Our generation is the Harry Potter generation — when Harry was 13, I was 13, and so on” she said. “It’s just really sad that that’s over.”

I experienced at least a few days worth of post-Potter depression myself after finishing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but I have high hopes for Rowling’s new novel, The Casual Vacancy. If it has the same quality of character development and compelling story lines that her fans came to expect from Harry Potter, it should be a success. After all, many of the readers who grew up with Harry are now adults who may appreciate the more mature setting of The Casual Vacancy.

Hompe, for one, doesn’t hate the idea of Rowling producing literature of a different type.

“I am intrigued,” she said. “I think it will be interesting to read.”

The book is described by publisher Little, Brown Book Group as “blackly comic, thought-provoking, and constantly surprising.” They give the following plot description on their website:

“When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. The empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?”

Though the Harry Potter series was technically aimed toward children and young adults, much of its content still covered adult issues, so to me it seems likely that Rowling will transition easily into the adult genre.

In short, the book is number one on my personal to-read list. However, as much I enjoy Rowling’s writing and can’t wait to see what she has to offer beyond Harry Potter, with a hardcover price of $35 and an ebook price of $20, I think I’ll wait until I can pick it up from the library.