Sunday, September 30, 2012

J.K. Rowling's Casual Vacancy has much casual brutality

My review of a new novel by a promising up-and-comer in the Toronto Star.

A taste:
The obvious thing for [Rowling] to have done would have been to write a kind of methadone novel for Potter addicts, something that bridged the gap between the world of Hogwarts and our own. No one would’ve begrudged her writing a mystery story, or a work of castle-heavy historical fiction, or even a work of grown-up fantasy (i.e., wizards with sex lives and drinking problems). Instead, she has written a book that plants its flag right in the middle of some very dark territory, where curses abound, but spells are non-existent. Readers looking for a little of that old Potter magic will be shocked by the new novel’s numerous scenes of drug abuse, marital discord, domestic violence, and unbridled despair. It’s the equivalent of Raffi making a late-career swerve into death metal, or Mr. Dressup doing David Mamet.