Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo – Book Review.

Title: Shadow and Bone

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Rating: 3/5

Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Adventure, Teenage Fiction

“This was his soul-made flesh, the truth of him laid bare in the blazing sun, shorn of mystery and shadow. This was the truth behind the handsome face and the miraculous powers, the truth that was the dead and empty space between the stars, a wasteland peopled by frightened monsters.”

As an avid reader, I picked up Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone, and thought it just to be another teenage fantasy novel that has drawn me in with the beautiful front cover and promising blurb, yet could not deliver on the promises it made. However, little did I know, that it would also appeal to my historian side. Because, not only is this a well-written, addictive and well-thought out novel, but it is based on my favourite period on history, which is late Tsarist Russia. So, instantly I had to devour it. And I am so pleased that I did.

Set primarily in the once-great nation of Ravka, the reader gets drawn into the turmoil and horror that is plaguing the country. Despite its size, mountainous regions, legends, and historical cities, the country has been ravaged and divided in two by a virtually impenetrable wall of darkness, known as ‘The Fold’. And hiding within this division, there are flesh-eating creatures feast on whomever is desperate enough to attempt to cross. The Fold has brought untold damage to the world outside of it, as it completely isolates either side of the country, and keeps the Ravkans from different and crucial regions. However, there are still forces who want to discover the secret of the Fold, control it and make crossings easier. And this is primarily made up of the Grisha, who are Masters of the Small Sciences – a form of magic –  and an elite of soldiers who have talents to control the elements, and guard the country and monarchy. And within this world, the novels follows the stories of two orphans, Alina and Mal, and how even the most unextraordinary people can turn out to be extraordinary, save a country defeat and conquer evil.

In Shadow and Bone, the reader is introduced to Alina and Mal as orphan friends who grew up together, and have both enlisted into the army. And, unsurprisingly, one of their first missions is to cross The Fold. But when this mission goes horribly wrong, Alina is revealed to not just be the ordinary girl she thinks she is, but a Grisha of extraordinary power and legendary talent. She is a Sun Summoner, and may just be the key to destroy the darkness of the Fold, and rescue Ravka from ruin. So, Alina is moved from the hard graft of the army and into the royal court to be trained as a Grisha, and she is under the control of the mysterious Darkling – a Grisha of equal power and ambition. During her training, Alina learns all about amplifiers – magical emblems that boost the Grisha powers – and she falls more under the thrall of the Darkling, and away from her old life as the orphan.But not all is as it appears in the court, and Alina has to decision to make that could either save the country she lives in, or save the people she loves.

Now, I have read the whole trilogy, and I loved them all, but it is very difficult to write a review on all of them without giving away too many spoilers. But Shadow and Bone was definitely one of my favourites. I believe that this could really be a stand-alone book, as it does end with a satisfying enough conclusion to make you think that it didn’t necessarily need to continue, but I’m very glad it did. The plot of Shadow and Bone was intriguing and had enough twists and turns to make it a good YA novel, and the world-building of Ravka was more than enough to keep me interested. As a Tsarist Russia historian, I have enough knowledge to know where some of the places were based on, and what characters were clearly based on which historical figures, which was a massive point-score in my book. But even if you didn’t know anything, it would diminish the story at all.

The world of the Grisha was a good take on the ‘guild of magicians’ that is sometimes used as overkill in YA novels nowadays. As a fighting force, they did seem fairly competent, and I did like how they were their own entity in a way. They didn’t necessarily follow the monarchy despite being under their control, and in the story it was shown that in different countries, Grisha weren’t respected as they are in Ravka, and even killed for being a commodity, rather than a person, which I found to be highly interesting. Also, with the use of the Fold, and the creatures that lurked within, Bardugo did have a good use of tension, and made you as the reader really get a sense of the terror that was felt, and how desperate the whole situation was.

But one thing I didn’t like was Alina. Which isn’t good considering she is the protagonist. Alina, to me, seemed to be too much of a drip, too indecisive, weak, a bit too whiny, and just not able to wield the power that she is born with. Now, I know that she is an orphan, and completely thrown into the deep end as she discovers her powers, but she just wasn’t the female role-model that should have been used. Let’s just say that she was not up to the same levels of Katniss and Hermione. Also what irked me was the love triangle. Love triangles can sometimes really work in YA, but it has to be done as a sideplot to the main story, and not take over the whole story, and make the conclusion depend on it. But, on a sidenote, within the love triangle, Bardugo did write passion quite well, especially with the Darkling. But apart from with the Darkling, the characters just felt a bit flat. The Darkling was an interesting figure as he had quite a lot of sides, and you weren’t really sure which one was his real side, and whether everything else was false. But, unfortunately with Mal and Alina, I just didn’t get on with them. In a writing sense, this was fairly well-written, and definitely showed promise for Bardugo to develop as a writer. There were some sloppy parts, but for a debut novel I thought it was gripping and moreish.

For a YA novel, it was well-done in world-building, in the plot line, and in the whole good-versus-evil thing. I’d recommend it and as an owner of the rest of the trilogy, I can say that when newer characters get introduced, everything gets a bit more interesting.

The rest of the trilogy is out to buy now!


To buy this book – Waterstones/Amazon

Author’s Website – Click Here

The Pastry Book Tag

Firstly, a big thank you to the lovely DriftingLexi for nominating me for my first book tag! And with all these yummy pastry-titles, I can tell it is a delicious tag already.

  1. Croissant: Name a popular book or series that everyone (including you) loves.

Harry Potter by J.K Rowling.

Is it cliché of me to write this? But I cannot think of a better example. Now, I cannot speak for every single person in the whole, wide world, but with over 450 million copies sold and countless of fans, huge theme parks, fandoms, merchandise and movies, this is probably one of the biggest and most-loved book series in the world. In my personal view, I started Harry Potter when I was about six years old, and now, as a twenty-one year old English graduate, this book series made me become a reader, a writer, a dreamer and an aspiring author. It helped me become the person I am today, have the values I have, and through Harry Potter, I actually met and made my best friend.

I just love this series too much. It’s in my DNA and part of my soul.

2. Macaron: Name a book that was hard to get through but worth it at the end.

A Clash of Kings by George R.R Martin.

Now, this was a doozy of a book. Physically massive, different narrative voices, a lot of intertwining plot lines, fantastical elements and one hell of a battle scene. Now, I love ASOIAF as a series. I’ve read it countless times, I’ve watched the series and for somebody who hasn’t read a lot of high fantasy, I thoroughly loved it. But I always struggle with this second book, even on these re-reads. It’s so large, has so many voices, so many different worlds and political points which do intertwine, but they are so separate in the same way. But, in the bigger picture, it is crucial for the series, and makes the other books look tiny in comparison!

3. Vol-au-vent: Name a book that you thought would be amazing but fell flat.

Fate by L.R Fredericks.

Okay, I am definitely one of those people who just obsessively buys books when I adore the blurb. And Fate had that. It had the tantalising words of ‘gilded salons of Ancien Regime’ and ‘courtesans and castrati, alchemists and anatomists’, and I basically threw it down on the counter with my money. But this was one of the most disappointing books I’ve read. It was confusing, didn’t live up to the blurb, and only really tied the loose strings together in the last few chapters. I don’t like giving up on books, but this was one I was super close to doing.

4. Pain au chocolat: Name a book that you thought would be one thing but turned out to be something else.

The Company of the Dead by David Kowalski

Once again, I judged it by the blurb. But this book, which initially had the premise of an alternate history linked with the Titanic and, I thought, would be focusing on a retelling of the Titanic and what happened really turned into this spy/detective novel that had far-spacing sections of Titanic that proved unsatisfactory. The novel wasn’t the best, as it was confusing, too long, rambling and unnecessary. If Kowalski just stuck with a retelling of the Titanic story, and did present an alternate timeline, it would have been far more interesting.

5. Profiterole: Name a book or series that doesn’t get enough attention.

The House of Special Purpose by John Boyne.

Now, if you don’t know me, you won’t know that I have a vast (and I mean VAST, such as 150) collection of Imperial Russia books. I adore the Romanovs, and the period that surrounds them. So I will always read any fictional accounts of this period. And, completely by accident I found this book in a charity shop. Written by the same author as The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Boyne is already an accomplished author, and this is another historical fiction novel. Set in pre-Revolutionary Russia, it focuses on a tale of a rags-to-riches peasant boy called Georgy who became the tsarevich’s personal bodyguard. However, when revolution swept over the country, Georgy has to follow the family to their exile, and his fate is sealed and tied to this family forever. Written in a very historically accurate manner, I found it highly enjoyable, and did catch myself actually crying at some bits. And for such a fanatic about the Romanovs, who usually hates the rumours of Anna Anderson and all the myths that came about one of the daughter’s surviving the assassination, this is a big deal for me.

6. Croquembouche: Name a book or series that’s extremely complex.

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess.

Now, I adore this book so much. I love, love, love it. The story is just so interesting, Alex is a fascinating protagonist, and it has all the qualities of a brilliant dystopian novel that I search for. But I did find it very complex, just because of the Russian-influenced argot that Burgess writes in. And I think it if you read it and just didn’t over think about the language, it would be fine. But, of course I didn’t. I basically demanded a glossary next to me.

7. Napoleon: Name a movie or TV show based off a book that you liked better than the book itself.

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman.

I feel like this is a universal acknowledgement  that Northern Lights was just significantly better than the 2007 The Golden Compass. Despite the film having a fairly good cast, the novel was just better. Lyra in the film was annoying, whilst Lyra in the book seemed rebellious. The daemon-human bond was better explained in the book, and it actually tugged on the heartstrings of everyone reading it, and the film changed the plot too much and had an entirely different, and worse ending. I remember feeling like this when I saw it in the cinema, and I certainly feel like it now after revisiting both.

8. Empanada: Name a book that was bittersweet.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron.

One of my favourite books of ALL time. Set in Barcelona, this book has a labyrinth of books, a masked figure, mystery, romance, decadence, abandoned mansions, death, obsession and the past catching up with the present. What more do you want? But there is one character in this novel. And this one character is the reason I put it under this particular heading. Because it is a tragic character. This person loved, lost and never really got over that loss. And this character, who is pretty central to the book, has to watch as their world is dismantled around them, and watch other characters find love, family and companionship, yet they can never truly be at peace. I don’t want to give too much away, but please, read it!

9. Kolompeh: Name a book or series that takes place somewhere other than your home country.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden.

Another favourite, this novel is set in pre-war Japan, and surrounded by the cherry-blossoms, kimonos, geishas, tea houses and beautiful Japanese gardens. Written in a first-person perspective, this novel follows the life of a geisha working in Kyoto, and follows her as she goes through all the traditions of becoming a geisha, and working in a cruel, female-dominated world where her fellow geisha are as fake as the face-paint they wear. It also has war, death, destruction, abandonment and a little bit of star-crossed love, which I am very partial too.

10. Pate a Choux: Name one food from a book or series that you would like to try.

Now this is a difficult one. Because a lot of the books I read don’t have food that is too difficult, or hard to find in my life. Like, I happily eat Japanese food, and Spanish food and Russian dishes. So, I’m going to finish as I started, and choose something from the Harry Potter universe. And I want to be left alone in Honeydukes, eat my heart out, have a dinner of Pumpkin Pies, and then wash all those delicious sweets down with a pint of Butterbeer (or even a tiny drop of Firewhisky).

So once again, a HUGE thank you to DriftingLexi for the tag.

Now, I pick my three!

Wallace @ Thoughts, Musings and Storytelling.

Becca @ Shih Tzu Book Reviews

Catherine @ Books Bird 

Thanks guys!

– Alice

Instrumental by James Rhodes – Book Review.

Title: Instrumental

Author: James Rhodes

Rating: 4/5

Genre: Memoir, Autobiography, Musician Autobiography, Social and Health Issues, Survivor Literature.

“So I looked for distractions. I looked for a way out that didn’t involve homicide or suicide. And all roads led to music. They always do.”

The first time I heard James Rhodes, I was doing a late night trawl through YouTube, and stumbled upon him playing Greig’s ‘In The Hall of the Mountain King’. How I got here, I’m unsure of. And what happened after the 2 minute 15 seconds were over, I’m not sure of either. I just knew that I had found a musician that was going to become my favourite.

Now, one thing to know about me, is that I love classical music. I grew up with my grandparents constantly having Beethoven playing, and now, listening to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, I am transported back to being a little girl again and dancing around the living room, pretending to be Sleeping Beauty or Odette. My iPod has equal amounts of Ravel and Mozart against Lana Del Ray and David Bowie, and I frequently find myself tuning into Bach on train journey’s. But in my opinion, breaking into this industry as a young fan can be met with snobbery and disbelief that you’d rather be listening to Rachmaninoff rather than Rihanna. So, when I found this pianist, who wears trainers and t-shirts on stage, swears and gives the audience little insights to the composer’s life, and then goes onto to play such electric music, I was instantly hooked.

And this year, for the second time, I’ll be seeing Rhodes play. And excitement doesn’t really begin to explain my sheer anticipation for this event.

But when I heard his was writing an autobiography, I knew I’d have to have it, devour it, reread it and just learn from it. Because like the composers he talks about, Rhodes’ life has been a rollercoaster of staggering lows, and extreme highs. And in this memoir, he talks how music literally saved his life.

Starting from Rhodes as being a, as he describes himself, ‘a dancing, spinning, gigglingly alive kid who was enjoying the safety and adventure of a new school’, the author reveals that, through an after-school boxing club, he was repeatedly raped and abused by his PE teacher, a man named Peter Lee, for years. Now, not only does this harrowing account tug at the heartstrings of everyone reading it, Rhodes also gives the reader the straightforward fact that issues that surrounded the rape, such as multiple surgeries, scars that are both physical and mental, a host of depression and other mental illnesses and later on, significant drink, self-harm and drug problems, have plagued him through his life, destroyed relationships that he had, been the reason for numerous admissions to various psychiatric hospitals and centres around the world.

Image courtesy of

So, this is a pretty brutal read. There is no way to flip it around. This novel could be considered too upsetting and harmful for some people, and Rhodes acknowledges that within the first few pages, and also gives trigger warnings when he can. Now, this addition was something that I found particularly clever and meaningful. A lot of books don’t do this, and a lot of people can be caught out unawares. So, kudos there. And as a memoir, it doesn’t hide anything behind a curtain of shame. His story is black-and-white, out there, and for you as the reader to digest as its gritty self. Rhodes writes about having friendships, being in love, being a father, getting divorced, re-finding love and ultimately having undying love for his son and his now-wife Hattie.

But alongside the memoir, this is a love letter to classical musical. Rhodes writes about how music inspired him, saved him and started to help him become whole again. And through a friend smuggling an iPod into him whilst Rhodes was in hospital, rediscovering the piano and the constant companion of Bach’s Chaconne, the deep scars inflicted on him start to knit together. At the beginning of each chapter, there is a piece of corresponding music that relates to the next few pages, and Rhodes gives the reader a short introduction to the composer and who they were, which I found to be one of my favourite parts of the books. Also, as all the pieces are available to stream and listen too, you get taken on a journey through the music itself, as well as the book. Rhodes also spends a lot of time addressing how stereotyped and warped the genre of classical musical has become, and how, by big labels and the music industry of today, how damaging they can be towards the progression of classical music as a reputable and popular genre. As, as a reader who doesn’t know much about the music industry, it was interesting to hear it from an actual musician who has an insider’s perspective.

Now, in actual publication sense, Instrumental almost didn’t see the light of day, as a vicious court battle ensued before release between Rhodes and his ex-wife, over a ban being slapped on it as, allegedly, the content could cause psychological damage to their son. But, in a Supreme Court hearing overturning the ban, this has not only garnered up mass support and media interest for the book, but also on how freedom of speech is accepted in modern-day society.

So, to sum up, in my opinion, this is an incredibly important book. Yes, it’s not the best written, and sometimes it goes on tangents, but the reader gets instantly sucked into the world of music, madness and medication. It gives Rhodes a voice to properly tell his story, and it sheds light on the sometimes forgotten world of classical music. And through his words and through the Supreme Court hearing, it may just be that book that could offer support and help for anyone suffering in the way that Rhodes did. So, please. Go and buy it. And sit down with some good headphones and a copy of Beethoven’s Symphonies.

Photograph: Susannah Ireland/Rex Features


To buy the book – Waterstones/Amazon.

James Rhodes’ Website – Click here.

The Supreme Court Hearing – Click here

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick – Book Review.

Title: The Silver Linings Playbook

Author: Matthew Quick

Rating: 4/5

Genres: Adult Fiction, YA Fiction, Mental Health, Awareness Fiction, Teenage Fiction, Romance, Chick-Flick

“Life is not a PG feel-good movie. Real life often ends badly. Literature tries to document this reality, while showing us it is still possible for us to endure nobly.”

To this particular reviewer, mental health, and issues surrounding mental health have not been the easiest category to find novels written about. Novels such as Go Ask Alice, The Solitude of Prime Numbers and The Perks of Being a Wallflower are all well-know examples of this genre, yet if you compare them up to books that have been written about cancer, or abuse, the scales are heavily weighed towards these ones. And I am definitely not criticising these novels, as any survivor who is brave and feels confident enough to write about their experiences should all be praised. But to me, the world of mental health, and issues that surround mental health have not be entirely explored. As, as readers are probably aware, there is still a massive taboo that has been attached to mental health, and if there was plenty of literature about it, it may be understood more.

Matthew Quick’s The Silver Linings Playbook is one of those novels that deals with mental health in a practical, straightforward and in-your-face sort of fashion. It deals with the everyday life of taking prescriptions, dealing with relapses and sessions with therapists and counsellors, as well as dealing with how the family and friends surrounding a person dealing with mental health get affected.

After suffering a breakdown, and spending time in a psychiatric unit, Pat Peoples becomes determined to get his life back on track. Moving between building relationship with estranged friends and family, getting fit, and most importantly, looking out for that silver lining to have positivity in his life, Pat’s ultimate goal is to get the reconciliation with his now-estranged wife, Nikki. However, through obstacles, such as his overly protective parents, mood swings that rage civil war with his own good intentions, and one particular smooth jazz song, Pat finds that he seems to be running into circles. But, when he meets the mysterious and beautiful Tiffany, who quickly befriends him and helps him understand that labyrinth that is his own thoughts, he seems to be running closer and closer towards his goal. But when Tiffany reveals secrets that Pat’s been kept in the dark about, and issues that haven’t been revealed to him, is all this running for nothing? Or could his find a new silver lining to reach for?

Now, it’s very hard to write a book summary without mentioning the 2012 film starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. Because that is such a good film, and despite not following the book completely, it definitely holds its own and the trailer for the film will be linked below. However, after a reread of the book, there is something about the book-Pat that Cooper couldn’t quite get. Pat is such a brilliant individual. Because despite having his own issues, and struggles, he really tries to reach for that silver lining in every scenario. He is such a glass-half-full kind of guy, and he seems loyal towards his dreams. And his dream is his wife Nikki.

However, it is revealed that their love, and the idolised version that he paints in his head is completely different from the reality. And for the reader to experience that is a blow, because you discover it as the same time as Pat does.

Pat’s mind, and the way it works is also an example of excellent writing. A thought pattern can be very difficult to write down, as it’s never linear and like a train track. It twists and turns, but usually always comes back to one idea or solution. Pat’s mind is written that way, but his constant, underlying thought is ‘Nikki, Nikki, Nikki’. And not only does that reveal how well Quick can write a person, but also how his mental illness borders on obsession.

Now, as I said, the film in comparison to the book has differences. The relationship Pat has with his parents is one of those story arcs that the film doesn’t go properly into, especially in relation to his father. Pat’s father – aptly named Pat Sr is one of those characters who you wish had his own point-of-view chapters, just to see what he thinks of his family However, to me, the real star of the show is Tiffany. And despite Pat being an excellent protagonist, and really showing how mental illness can affect people’s lives, he is in a different league to the complexities of Tiffany.

Like Pat, Tiffany suffers from her own issues, which is only really explored in the later chapters, yet she is also one of those characters that you sometimes wish you were. She is incredibly confident about her own abilities in deciding what she wants, and makes herself very clear when she voices her opinions. However, she unfortunately has a tendency to, when she wants something, she will the hardest to make it difficult to gain it.

Her and Pat’s relationship are also one of those which seem to have been thrown together by destiny. They both argue, are both incredibly stubborn, and yet together, they have some of the most interesting conversations with each, and seem to be completely at ease with each when they’re alone.

One more thing I love about the book is the chapter names. They are named after lines from each chapter that are completely out of context, but make for some enjoyable reading. My personal favourite is ‘Sister Sailor-Mouth’.

I’m going to be completely honest here. This isn’t the best written book, and nor is going to be the best book I’ve ever read. But the story does seep out from the page, and makes you want to read it over and over again. However, the film version is definitely one of the best adaptations I’ve seen. And despite it not following the story completely, the acting ability of Cooper and Lawrence, as well as the documentation of the family relationships and fitting soundtrack, does add to the whole quality of it. So yes, read the book and then watch the film.

And I’m going to end this review with a quote from Lawrence in her Oscar-winners speech, which I think sums up the feeling of the book, and what she wanted to portray through Tiffany, – ‘I don’t think we’re going to stop until we get rid of this stigma for mental illness. I know David won’t. And I hope that this helps. It’s just so bizarre how in this world, if you have asthma you take asthma medicine, and diabetes you take diabetes medicine, but as soon as you take medication for your mind, it’s such a stigma behind it’.

If you, as a reader, loved:
1: ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’ by Stephen Chbosky
2: ‘Girl, Interrupted’ by Susanna Kaysen
3: ‘The Bell Jar’ by Sylvia Plath

You’ll love this.


Buy the book – Amazon/Waterstones 

Author’s Website – Click Here

Trailer for the film

The Casual Vacancy by J.K Rowling – Book Review

Title: The Casual Vacancy

Author: J.K Rowling

Rating: 4/5

Genres: Adult fiction, Young Adult, Tragicomedy, Society Novel, Modern Society

When I started blogging, I did make a rule that I would never review any of J.K Rowling’s books – only due to the fact that I wasn’t sure if I could write a book review that would be fair to the book and not reflect the author. But, as I did a recent reread of the novel, I feel that I have enough to say about this book without really mentioning the author.

Set in the West Country village of Pagford (think Sandford in Hot Fuzz and the idea of the pastoral/Golden England image), the death of local councillor Barry Fairbrother completely shocks the closeted community, and subsequently leaves an empty gap on the local parish council – a spot which not only holds massive personal significance to the ‘Old Guard’ of the village, but could influence how the village and the neighbouring boroughs are run. And within these boroughs, the council estate of ‘The Fields’ and the Bellchapel Methadone Rehabilitation Clinic is a long-standing, sore spot for the inhabitants of Pagford. The ‘Casual Vacancy’ of the council seat is the set up for one of the biggest civil wars that the village has ever had to deal with. And inbetween the midst of interwoven story lines of poverty, teenage drama, salacious gossip and drug and death, this battleground threatens to break the fragile bliss that hangs over the community/.

First thing that must be addressed is that, despite the author, this is not a Potter-related story in the slightest. When Rowling first of all announced the book, there was surprise over how different the genre and world was away from Hogwarts and all its magical glory. But, this book holds its own against Potter.

Now, I must be brutally honest. If, beforehand, I spotted this book in Waterstones at it hadn’t been written by Rowling, I may have not picked it up. I grew up with Harry Potter, and that woman impacted my life in more ways than one. However, after reading this novel, I have been introduced to a whole new genre of literature that I just want to devour. And, this has nothing to do with the author, but with the content itself.

This novel deals with very adult themes that do affect everyday people in an everyday life, and despite it having the center story arc of an empty parish seat and a land dispute, this novel is gripping from page one to page five-hundred-and-three.

The initial idea that everybody-knows-everything-in-a-small-village isn’t too dissimilar to my own village, and I was surprised to being able to relate some many issues that she writes about. Rowling, after living in Chepstow in her youth, clearly knows what it’s like to have such an intimate community, and has brought her own experiences of quirks that smaller towns and villages have, such as particular attitudes to outsiders, and the characters in general.

Each character is so well-developed, and intriguing to the plot that there is not weak link in the village structure. And she has done the rare thing of making truly villainous characters so hateful that you cannot find any glimmer of positivity, and she has made the upstanding, thoughtful characters lovely and more-ish. But she’s also written the others in a way that they are flawed, and human-like, so that you can understand when they make mistakes, and have personalities that you can draw upon your own.

As a Potter fan, the way that Rowling writes has clearly developed over the years. There is a massive difference between the Philosopher’s Stone, and the Deathly Hallows. And the writing didn’t shock me, but it did surprise me. he way it’s written didn’t shock me so much at first, but it did surprise me.With frank discussions about sex, death, drugs and swearing, Rowling writes in a realistic way to the genre and the adult category of the book, yet I was guilty to rearing back after reading a particularly graphic bit of swearing and thinking that this was the same woman who created Harry, Ron and Hermione. And, unfortunately, if you constantly think about the comparison between Potter and Casual Vacancy, you can never properly enjoy the book, and it may be what has put people off reading it.

However, all in all, The Casual Vacancy is truly a gripping narrative which sucks you right into the bustling world of Pagford and the constant underlying tension until the very end, and I would recommend to any age from teenager upwards. But, with the plot differing to Potter, and more adult themes that can shock unsurprising readers, it will be for a more mature audience that Rowling does attract.

There was also a three-part BBC series of The Casual Vacancy that aired earlier this year, and despite this not following the plot entirely, and having to be changed to adapt for television, I would recommend it for character choice, and quality of the acting and sets. But, read the book first. As the ending of the book is completely different to the series, and in my opinion, far more harrowing.

If you, as a reader, enjoyed:

  • Jodi Picoult’s novels
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year by Sue Townsend

Then you’ll love this book!


Buy the book – Waterstones/Amazon

JK Rowling’s Website – Click Here

Trailer for the BBC series

Note – have begun the transferal of all my old blogposts on my now-defunct blog onto this one. This blog will house everything I’ve published before, but in a sleeker and more professional way.

Thank you for reading this review.

Please comment, share this around etc.

Alice x