JK Rowling is an excellent writer of characters. This character-driven novel shows the nuances of small-town life, with its judgments, prejudices, friendships and connections. While overall I genuinely disliked MOST of the characters, Rowling, who told the novel through an omniscient narrator, still allowed me to be sympathetic (at least temporarily) with the slimiest of characters. Her characters are raw and real, ugly, unpleasant, arrogant and gritty. Yet, through the entire novel I still rooted for the happy ending that could never really happen.
I don’t recommend this book to the casual reader. It is not HP and should not even draw a comparison. (I am wondering if that is why other reviews are so low?) Rowling knows her stuff. She throws in a reference to Kingsley’s “Waterbabies” in her adept descriptions.
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel despite its departure from my usual readings of children’s and young adult literature.