Nobody in today’s generation have not had a close encounter with the magical realms of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Thanks to a bloody brilliant woman who dared to take the risk amidst her then very limited resources to pursue a series of seven novels. Years later, her works helped her became one of the most influential book authors in the whole world. Like the sudden transformation of her main protagonist in her novels who from an ordinary orphaned boy changed to the most celebrated wizard in the world of magic, J.K. Rowling transformed from an unemployed, single mother to one of the riches women in the whole of England. You might say it was magic that made her very successful but she could have believed otherwise. Maybe it’s courage and unwavering determination.
As the first chapter of her life as an author culminates, another chapter commences. Her second book entitled The Casual Vacancy, is not a ‘chip of the old block’ for it speaks nothing of casting spells, buying cauldrons, and moving staircases. Instead, it is heavily equipped with scandals, lies, sex and misbehaving parents and children. The story revolves around the British town of Pagford and how its locals have struggled to survive a not-so-silent war among themselves. Following the sudden death of Barry Fairbrother who suffered from brain aneurysm, the untimely mourning of the people has been overlapped by hasty desires to fill in a “casual vacancy” left by Fairbrother himself as parish councilor. As the plot continues to become more intense, it begins to unravel the true face of the small British town. Beneath Pagford’s lovely front-act is a grimy Pandora’s Box waiting to be opened. Everything is not what it seems and each of the novel’s characters has a dirty little secret tied into knots waiting to be loosened up. The place is filled with unfaithful marriages, provocative youngsters and scheming power-hungry characters who will do anything to pull and prove themselves on top to the detriment of those who are socially-deprived and economically-challenged.
The theme of Rowling’s new novel is not purely on scandals and deceit but on how people’s status in the society is defined by money, whether we like it or not. The obsession for money drives a man to seek for invincibility, making him cling to a higher source of power or position in the society. He does everything in his capabilities to plunge into the endless abyss of supremacy even if makes him evil. If you are seeking for a material which screams darkness and is seeping with outrage, The Casual Vacancy makes a good read. In this book, expect none of J.K. Rowling’s ‘Polyjuice potion’ to save your day. Every character was created and based upon reality. And even if for some readers, this novel was a duller version of her previous works, the magic goes on for J.K. Rowling.