Amazon reviews for The Casual Vacancy by J.K. ROWLING, her first novel for adults (the Harry Potter books are, as most of the planet knows, her claim to fame)

5-star reviews:   350 (23%)

4-star reviews:   267 (17%)

3-star reviews:   218 (14%)

2-star reviews:   264 (17%)

1-star reviews:    441 (29%)

Total reviews: 1,540 (100%)

From the above figures, we can infer that 40% of Amazon reviewers liked the book (4- and 5-star reviews), 14% thought it was okay (3-star reviews), and 46% disliked it (1- and 2-star reviews).

Here’s a review from each category…

5-star review: “Brilliant, disturbing, not for everyone.” Simply Keith (New Mexico)

4-star review: “Good character novel.” Jessica (Kansas)

3-star review: “A bit of a chore to get through.” M.J. Bayliss “book queen”

2-star review: “Grim, crass, and exceptionally dull.” Beth (Chicago)

1-star review: “A hot mess worth zero stars.” S. Kinney (Indiana)

Published by Little, Brown and Company, the 512-page book retails for $35, but is currently selling on for $20.48. As of today, The Casual Vacancy ranks as #26 on the Amazon bestseller list.

From the Amazon page, here’s the description of the novel (which some have pegged as P.G. Wodehouse meets Peyton Place): When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. 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 town’s 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? Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.


J.K. Rowling has been quoted, as in this article, that she bristles at the publisher’s designation of the novel as a black comedy, as noted below:

When I read the blurb that said it’s a ‘black comedy,’ I thought – that’s not maybe how I would’ve described it. I would’ve maybe said it’s a comic tragedy…”

I have not read The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling, but when having my teeth cleaned last week listened as my brilliant (I mean it) hygienist Audrey talked about some of the books she’d read during the past year — including The Hunger Games and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (she was not enthusiastic about either book — on that we agreed). She then asked if I’d read Rowling’s new book (Audrey is a Harry Potter fan), and during intervals when I could speak, I said I’d look into the book — and write about the novel on this blog.

Based on everything I’ve read, I have no intention of picking up a copy of The Casual Vacancy. But I’m wondering if any of the Silver Birch blog readers have read the novel. Based on the number of reviews on Amazon and the sales figures, some people somewhere must be buying and reading J.K. Rowling’s latest effort.  But it’s not going to be moi — even to borrow from the library. (Although I did sample a few pages with Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature.)