Once you get past the novelty of a beloved children’s author using vulgarity and narrating drug use and sex, the book is relatively mundane. The plot lumbers along at a moderate pace, introducing characters of the town of Pagford and outlining their situations. While Rowling excels at character development, the townsfolk in this novel are unsavory, bordering on detestable. Junkies, wife beaters, ambitious small-town politicians, despondent wives, and horny teenagers make up this cast. Once everyone’s intrigues are presented, the pacing slows down for the latter two-thirds of the book until the last 40-ish pages. There’s a mildly tragic and somewhat climactic conclusion, but by the end, I just wanted to be finished. There were some decent little sub-plots and some deserving characters got their comeuppance, but the daily minutiae of Pagford was monotonous.
Rowling’s character development succeeds, no doubt. The universe she creates here was tedious without magic, and wasn’t as engaging as the vast and original creation that we love her for.