After the untimely demise of local councillor Barry Fairbrother, the sleepy town of Pagford is shaken when all the citizens start fighting over the empty council seat, squabbling like the whiny assholes that they are. It’s not really a bad book but I doubt I’ll ever want to read it again. It’s a character-driven book, but all of the characters are unlikeable and have only negative personality traits. All of them. I don’t mind flawed characters, but there’s got to be at least one sympathetic character for me to side with. In this book, at one point I wouldn’t have minded if a meteor crashed down and obliterated all of Pagford.
I found it especially hard to start, it took me two tries to finally get through the first chapter, though it got better after getting used to the sudden POV switches and the fact that I hated all characters. The last two chapters kept me up late because I had to know how it ended, and the conclusion can only be described as cathartic (in the original Greek tragedy sense). I only wish someone had warned me that the book contained mentions of child abuse, that part turned my stomach, so I advise caution if this is a sensitive subject for you.
Oh, and the mandatory bottom line, the comparison with Harry Potter: nope, they’re as different as day and night in style, themes, characters, everything. Which doesn’t automatically make this a bad book, but if you’re going to pick it up just on the strength of J.K. Rowling’s name, don’t bother.