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Sherman Alexie
'Casual Vacancy' fails to conjure Harry Potter's magic
'Casual Vacancy' fails to conjure Harry Potter's magic

It's hardly shocking that the most fully realized characters in "The Casual Vacancy," J.K. Rowling's first novel for adults, are the youngest. Fats Wall, Krystal Weedon, Gaia Bawden, Andrew Price, Sukhvinder Jawanda: Even the names are vaguely reminiscent of those in her “Harry Potter” series, and when “The Casual Vacancy” focuses on these teenagers and their interactions (with one another, with their parents, with the petty hypocrisies of adult society), it takes on if not an urgency then a momentum of a kind. The problem is that they are too infrequently at the center of this novel, which revolves around a small English town called Pagford...

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