When I was eight I heard this sentence for the first time. Little did I know it would change my life and the lives of millions of others across the globe.
J.K. Rowling’s Potter series completely reinvented the way we think of children’s fantasy literature. Clearly it is not just for children, nor only for people that like fantasy. Harry Potter is for everyone. The question now is, can she do it again?
When the epic story of The Boy Who Lived came to a close, many began to ask what was next for Rowling. Some were demanding the next generation series about the Golden Trios’ children and their subsequent adventures at Hogwarts, while others wanted to know what the wizarding world was like when The Death Eaters and The Order of the Phoenix were only beginning to form. Rowling, however, declined both of these ideas, and claimed to be done with the world of Harry Potter.
Then, in April, Rowling announced the title of her new novel: The Casual Vacancy. There was a heightened amount of secrecy surrounding Rowling’s project, which in turn heightened the expectations and interest. Along with the title, the publisher also released a short synopsis of the plot, only making us more anxious to get our hands on Rowling’s next masterpiece.
The Casual Vacancy centers on the chain of events that occur in an idyllic English town after one of the members of the parish council, Barry Fairbrother, dies under mysterious circumstances. Other than the fact that Barry rhymes with Harry, The Casual Vacancy is just about as far from the Harry Potter phenomena as it could be; in fact, the publisher describes the book as “blackly comic.”
With such a strikingly different subject and genre, who will the audience be for this new novel? I know I want to read each and every word J.K. Rowling has ever written and will ever write, and I assume it’s the same for most Potterheads. However, I think Rowling will also pick up some new readers. Adults who were wary of Harry Potter because it’s supposedly geared toward children may be more apt to pick up a Rowling book that’s shelved in the adult fiction section. And maybe those adults, after devouring The Casual Vacancy, will realize what a proficient storyteller Rowling really is, and will give Harry Potter a go, because saying Harry Potter is just for kids is like saying ice cream or naps are just for kids.
Whatever the case, in 21 days the world will find out just how well Rowling can write sans Potter. I have no doubt I will tear through the 512 pages in no time and be left hungry for more, and hopefully the more reluctant will be sufficiently impressed at Rowling’s ability to break out of her typecast. Even if the book is a complete flop (which is highly unlikely), it will never change the fact that to her devoted subjects in the realm of witchcraft and wizardry she will forever remain Queen Rowling.