"I think I've really exhausted the magical. It was a lot of fun, but I've put it behind me for the time being. If there is a connection between Harry Potter and my new novel, it's my interest in characters."
—J. K. Rowling comparing The Casual Vacancy to the Harry Potter series.[4]

The Casual Vacancy is a novel by J. K. Rowling, released worldwide on 27 September, 2012[3]. It is Rowling's first novel targeted specifically at an adult audience and her first published work outside of the Harry Potter series.[3][2] It was released in paperback on 18 July 2013 in the U.K., with two new covers available.[5] The book was adapted into a three-episode miniseries that aired on BBC One in February 2015.


The Casual Vacancy is set in the fictional location of Pagford, a seemingly peaceful and idyllic town that is home to a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey. However, beneath its surface, Pagford is a "town at war," where rich clash with poor, teenagers with parents, wives with their husbands, and teachers with their students. After the sudden death of Barry Fairbrother shocks the town, his seat on the parish council is left open, leading to an election "fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations."[3]

Publisher Little, Brown and Company described the novel as "blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising."[2]

"When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the 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 parish 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? "
—Official plot description[src]


The Casual Vacancy was published worldwide by Little, Brown and Company on 27 September, 2012 in hardback, e-book, audio download, and CD formats.[2]

The audiobook was read by Tom Hollander.[1]


The title was promoted with a "minimalist" approach, with few advance copies being released (similar to later Harry Potter releases) with few appearances by Rowling herself and only one appearance in the United States well in advance of its release. Those who received advanced copies were reportedly required to sign contracts described as "more legal documents than would typically be involved in buying a house."[6]


The print copy reached #1 on's list of bestsellers and #1 in both the Contemporary and Literature sections. Early reviews were generally favourable, but noted its vast difference from the Harry Potter novels, including elements such as drugs, sex, and explicit language.[7][8]


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