The Casual Vacancy
First edition worldwide cover
Author(s) J. K. Rowling
Country United Kingdom
Genre(s) Fiction, tragicomedy
Publisher Little, Brown and Company
Publication date 27 September 2012
Pages 503
ISBN 9781408704202

Local Pagford Parish Councillor, Barry Fairbrother dies of an aneurysm in the car park of a local golf course and the inhabitants of the town begin to share the news with each other. Chaos ensues in deciding who should fill his chair, and whether they will choose to keep local council housing estate "The Fields" (including Bellchapel Addiction Clinic) a part of Pagford, or instead join the city of Yarvil. This is the first main arc of the novel.

When the election date is announced, children of the candidates begin to take revenge on their parents for numerous reasons - the political affairs affect not only the adults. They do so by posting defamatory messages on the Parish Council's website. Andrew Price, son of Simon Price, is the first to do so after his father violently attacks him and his mother, by posting about Simon's stolen computer under alias "The_Ghost_Of_Barry_Fairbrother ". Sukhvinder Parminder (who has also learned about SQL Injections: a form of hacking) uses the same method and alias to take revenge on her mother, Dr. Parminder Jawanda, claiming in her post that Parminder was in love with Barry Fairbrother. Fats Wall also posts about his adoptive father, Colin Wall, who he claims has molested a child. A fourth post is made, informing that Howard Mollison was having an affair with his business partner, Maureen. Howard's son, Miles wins the election, leading his wife Samantha to admit to him, after drunkenly molesting Andrew, that she no longer loves him.

The second main plot of the novel, is the life of Kystal Weedon, who lives in The Fields with her mother, Terri, a prostitue and heroin addict, and little brother Robbie. Kay Bawden, a social worker who has moved to Pagford in order to keep her relationship with lawyer Gavin alive, is determined for Terri to stop using drugs so as to keep Robbie. Terri, however, relapses, and her drug-dealer rapes Krystal. Krystal decides to start a family for herself and Robbie elsewhere, and has unprotected sex with Fats Wall in an attempt to become pregnant. During one of these instances, Krystal leaves Robbie alone on a bench, and runs away without supervision. He passes Samantha who is walking alone after a fight with Miles and Shirley Mollison, who is on her way to kill husband Howard in a desparate attempt for the attention Mary Fairbrother received when she was widowed. Robbie falls into a river, and Sukvinder jumps in after him, cutting her leg on the thrown-away stolen computer (she previously expressed a suicidal wish to drown) but she is unsucessful in saving him; Robbie drowns. Shirley returns home to find Howard collapsed after a heart-attack. She calls an ambulance which stops to help Sukvinder and try and resuscitate Robbie. Kystal is so distraught at Robbie's death that she deliberately overdoses on heroin. The novel ends with Krystal and Robbie's funeral, where they play Krystal's favourite song, Umbrella by Rhianna, which J. K. Rowling chose due the rap at the beginning of the song fitting Krystal's character:

Good girl gone bad -
Take three -
No clouds in my storms...
Let it rain, I hydroplane into fame
Comin' down with Dow Jones...

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