Back in February, J.K. Rowling warned us that her upcoming book would be “very different to Harry,” but we’re not sure anyone was prepared for just how different she was talking about. We thought maybe more mature, since it’s for adults; perhaps more self-contained, after the exhausting process of the seven Harry Potter novels and companion books. Still, we kind of expected there to be some kind of magic or other form of entirely imaginative new world, or something wholly captivating like that. Today, her new publisher, Little Brown, announced the title and synopsis of the novel, The Casual Vacancy, and it turns out to be a story about … um … local politics?
“When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock,” reads the synopsis of the book, which hits shelves on September 27. “Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils… Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen.”
It’s a “blackly comic” novel, the publisher promises. Actually, it sounds pretty good. Rowling is as skilled with developing interesting characters as she is at wizardy things, we know. And we’re sure most original Potter fans are all grown up and reading all sorts of different genres. Now, she stands to add to her empire by bringing in all the readers who steer clear of any hint of fantasy. OK. We’re happy for her being able to stretch her wings and all. But if this doesn’t work out, or even if it does, Jo, we’ll be here, hoping you can pick up that wand of yours again one day.
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