Potter no more


Shelby Devitt

J.K. Rowling, author of the much-beloved Harry Potter book series, is releasing her first novel since 2007, when readers said goodbye to the cast of magical characters our generation grew up with.

The releases of the last few Harry Potter films has kept up interest in Rowling, resulting in eagerness for the new novel, which is called The Casual Vacancy.

According to Rowling’s website, the 512-page novel is a departure from both children’s literature and the fantasy genre. It is described as a dark comedy written for an adult audience.

The plot centers on the death of middle-aged Barry Fairbrother, a parish councilman in the small English town of Pagford. The election to fill Fairbrother’s seat throws the entire town into chaos. “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,” writes publisher Little, Brown and Company. “Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?”

Junior political science major Lucas Elliott voiced concerns over how well the traditionally young adult novelist’s first endeavor into an adult market will sell.

“A huge base of her fans are our age: young,” Elliott said.

Freshman theatre arts major Dalton Johnson also shared concerns.

“I’m scared,” Johnson said. “There are high expectations. She’s already on such a high pedestal.”

Freshman theatre arts major Alexi Langlois said Rowling’s transition into novels for an adult audience will prove if she’s a good author.

Edith Craig, community relations coordinator for the DeKalb Public Library, 309 Oak St., said many patrons have been surprised to find A Casual Vacancy will not be a children’s novel. She said similar confusion happened when Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight saga, wrote a novel for adults.

“We had to put all her books in both children and adult sections,” Craig said.

The DeKalb Public Library has ordered two copies of the novel, and Library Director Dee Coover said they anticipate great curiosity in it. The library has a section called Hot Reads, which is separate from regular collections and contains popular books that have reached The New York Times best sellers list, Craig said. She predicts A Casual Vacancy will eventually be placed in Hot Reads. These books can be rented from the DeKalb Public Library with a library card and $1. They are always in stock since they are not shared with other libraries.

Deb Farnsworth, merchandise manager at Barnes and Noble, 2439 Sycamore Road, said the store has been taking pre-orders for weeks. The book will be released in-store and online in hardcover, audiobook and ebook formats.

“The only comments we’ve gotten are disappointment in the cover art, that it’s plain in comparison to the amazing Harry Potter covers,” Farnsworth said.

Cover art, genre and the age of the target audience aside, the name and reputation of J.K. Rowling alone could make this novel a best-seller.

“I’m excited,” said senior mathematical sciences major Brianna Mendoza. “I’m probably going to read it just because it’s J.K. Rowling.”