J.K. Rowling’s first foray into adult literature, The Casual Vacancy, is a palate cleanser. It is as far removed from the magic of Hogwarts as one can imagine. It’s set in the fictional village of Pagford and the sudden death of one of the parish council members sets off some drama. I feel bad even calling it drama considering how slow moving all the various plot points are and how horribly petty the lot of them feel.
Indeed upon reflection of the finished book, the story felt like a giant heap of exposition, a hint of rising action and then…done. What was intended to be the climax felt anti-climatic and short. The characters are all rather flat and two-dimensional and the few that exhibit any short of change by the end of the story do so suddenly enough to make it feel contrived.
This is not a “bad” novel, but it wasn’t that great. Very solidly “meh”. It is perhaps the type of novel Rowling had to write to prepare for a post-Harry future.