I haven’t read anything by J.K. Rowling, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Casual Vacancy. But after reading Amanda Hannah’s review, (from the YA Highway site) I was intrigued and quickly purchased a copy. In the beginning, I felt overwhelmed by the onslaught of characters. After reading a few chapters, I decided to jot down and group the characters which helped. Rowling uses a third person omniscient point of view which drew me in. I was comfortably lost in the imaginary town of Pagford, England where most of the people are horrid yet authentic. In the first few pages, Councilman Barry Fairbrother’s death quickly becomes the talk of Pagford. Many of the characters revel in the gossip for various reasons. Some people resent Fairbrother’s interest in the well being of the poverty stricken Fields (an area adjacent to Pagford). Others enjoy spreading the news because it makes them feel important. Miles Mollison, a man born into wealth and his wife Samantha are the first to find out about Barry’s death. “Even as they discussed what they had been forced to witness, each trying to drive out the vague feelings of fright and shock, feathery little ripples of excitement had tickled Mile’s insides at the thought of delivering the news to his father.” In fact, Miles could barely wait until seven am to phone his father for “fear that somebody else might beat him to it.” Why is it that some people light up when they hear bad news? I wish that I could say that I don’t know many people like this but I do. Rowling explores poverty, politics, family dynamics, diversity, and a plethora of other important issues. The Casual Vacancy is incredibly dark, at times funny, and definitely worth reading.