Things You'll Find in Every J.K. Rowling Book

I recently finished reading J.K. Rowling's 'A Casual Vacancy'.

Those of you who stalk me on Goodreads already know this. 

I had had the book for some time, but never managed to psyche myself up to reading it. The only thing I'd heard about the book - over and over again - was that it wasn't Harry Potter. Eventually, though, I caught sight of it on my bookshelf and, despite it not being Harry Potter, my curiosity got the better of me. And after I'd finished it, one thing really stood out to me.

If this cover were one shade brighter, you could actually land planes with it.

Harry Potter and The Casual Vacancy are practically the same book.

Sure, on the surface, one is about an orphan conquering the twin demons of blood purists and puberty, and the other is about a small town realizing that people die sometimes. But when you really delve into it, there are some oddly specific things that the two worlds share. Things like:

(It's worth noting that I'm not including The Cuckoo's Calling in this analysis, because technically, that was a Robert Galbraith novel, and seriously, people, I'm a student. I don't have the time or money to read things that aren't textbooks right now.)


Twins account for somewhere between 9 and 16 births for every thousand episodes of pushing out a live baby. In other words, if you're pregnant, your odds of getting an extra bonus baby are between 0.9 - 1.6%. That's not a lot of twins. Statistically speaking, you are more likely to believe that lizard people run the government than you are to bear dual versions of yourself in one go.

Of the 149 important characters who show up in the Harry Potter series, six of them (Fred & George Weasley, Padma & Parvati Patil, Hestia & Flora Carrow) are twins, which leaves the Harry Potter cast clocking in at 4.0% twin - roughly quadruple the actual rate. Apparently twins are magical beings, because even Loony Luna Lovegood goes on to have her own set of twin boys. But as twin-filled as Harry Potter is, The Casual Vacancy is even worse. Two (Niamh & Siobhan Fairbrother) of the 34 characters are twins, which puts this book at a whopping 5.9% twin rate.

No good can come of so many twins.

So what does this mean for any future books? Readers should expect to see more and more incidents of multiple births, until Rowling finally gets her hands on a copy of Brave New World and writes a novel starring eighty-three identical teenage clones.

Shitty, Shitty Fathers

Look, it's not exactly a secret that J.K. Rowling has some daddy issues. She and her own father have what Wikipedia calls a "difficult relationship"; in other words, he auctioned off a collection of the autographed first-edition books she gave him for Christmas in order to save his failing burger truck business. Rowling's animosity towards her burger-peddling paternal figure shows up in more than just her adolescent diaries, however; it's splashed all over her writing.

Peter and Joanne Rowling, in a rare moment of not despising one another. 

Virtually every character in both the Harry Potter series and The Casual Vacancy has a catastrophically shitty father figure. Look at Harry Potter. Voldemort's father abandoned him, and his mother's father was an abusive, shack-dwelling hobo. Snape's father may or may not have liked to 'argue' with his fists. Sirius Black's father disowned his teenage son for not being enough of a wizard Nazi. Dumbledore's father got a life sentence in prison for torturing three Muggle children. Malfoy's father indoctrinates his only son to a life of serving an immortal lord of racial purity and death, and makes his 17-year-old child promise to murder the most powerful wizard who ever lived. Even Remus Lupin, who is portrayed as kind-hearted, responsible and trustworthy, instantly turns into a child-abandoning shithead the moment he's entrusted with offspring. In fact, the character who is arguably the purest of heart - Mr. Neville Longbottom - is one of the only characters who grew up without any father figure whatsoever.

Father-son bonding just interferes with snake slaying.

But the Harry Potter books aren't the last stop on the 'horrendously irresponsible father' train. Oh, no. The Casual Vacancy is so chocked full of heinous fathers that it's actually the driving theme of the book. Andrew Price's father steals things he can easily afford and beats his entire family whenever they dare to breathe too loud. Stuart 'Fats' Wall's father loudly and openly expresses that he can't stand his child and he never wanted a son in the first place. Sukhvinder Jawanda's father is too busy performing open heart surgery and making middle-aged panties drop to notice that his own daughter is carving herself up like salami every time someone calls her stupid.

In other words, if you live in a J.K. Rowling novel and a person came out of your balls, you are probably a horrible human being.

Good Fathers Coming Perilously Close to Death

Even J.K. Rowling seems to have realized that filling up her novels with nothing but child molesters and offspring-abandoners is a quicker ticket to therapy than to a book deal. In order to keep the psychiatrist's prescription pad at bay, she sprinkles in the occasional father figure who truly loves and cares for the tiny humans he humped into existence. Harry Potter has James Potter, Arthur Weasley, and Sirius Black, whom I'm counting as a father because I seriously don't have a lot to go on here, Rowling. The Casual Vacancy has Barry Fairbrother and Howard Mollison.

Anyone noticing a pattern here?

Here's a hint.

Every single one of those men either dies, or comes incredibly close to being offed before his time. In Harry Potter, James Potter's death is one of the events that sparks the entire plot. Arthur Weasley picks the wrong night to take guard duty and inadvertently ends up as a snake's midnight snack; interestingly enough, that run-in with Nagini in book five was supposed to be Arthur Weasley's ultimate demise, but J.K. Rowling realized that his death would leave her series completely devoid of decent fathers, and changed the outcome of the scene. Sirius Black stepped out of the blue to prove that good parents don't have to be your birth parents, and that even people from cartoonishly evil Nazi families can overcome their past, but all of that amounts to nothing when he suffers a tragic death by haunted curtain.

Bed, Bath & Beyond just got deadlier.

In The Casual Vacancy, Barry Fairbrother's death is the entire point of the book, and (There be spoilers up ahead, mateys), Howard Mollison suffers not one, but two attempts on his life... at the same time. This goes way beyond coincidence. If you're a father in the London area, try to avoid holding hands with your children in public, lest J.K. Rowling spot you and bludgeon you to death with her typewriter. 

Teenagers Meddling in Things They Do Not Understand

And now we come to the real underlying theme of J.K. Rowling's books. Harry Potter is essentially a seven-volume instruction manual for how to screw up absolutely everything and then stumble ass-first into success. It starts from the very first book. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Sorcerer's Stone, if you're south of the 49th), Harry is told, over and over again, to kindly stay the fuck away from the third floor corridor, because it's not entirely unreasonable for adults to want to keep an 11-year-old child away from a giant, feral 3-headed dog. 

Puppy! Er... puppies?

Of course, Harry the Wonder Boy doesn't listen, and promptly charges through Dumbledore's Seven Circles of Hell to retrieve the Philosopher's stone, defeat Voldemort and save the day. He's the hero here! Except... had Harry not intervened, Quirrel would have stared hopelessly at the mirror until Voldemort got bored and mind-crushed him. He had no way of getting it out. Harry is literally the only human capable of getting the stone, so if he never shows up, Voldemort's plot is still just as foiled. The outcome of the story is exactly the same if Harry isn't in it at all. 

Reminds me of someone else I know...

Harry's further exploits including playing with evil diaries when he's told not to, playing mind-footsie with Voldemort when he's told not to, and fighting the world's most evil snake lord behind Dumbledore's back when he's told not to, only to have other people swoop in at the last minute and help him save the day. But he and his friends aren't the only teens to stick their noses where they don't belong. The Casual Vacancy is the adultiest adult book ever, about adults doing adult things like holding elections and dying of brain aneurysms, and it's still chock-full of curious teenage meddlers. 

Growing up sucks, kids.

The entire plot of the novel is driven by shitty, shitty kids doing shitty, shitty things with consequences they can't even begin to comprehend. The book blurb may tell you that it's about a small town trying to throw an election to find a replacement for a dead town counselor, but don't be fooled; it's really about chronically unsupervised teens trying to find out what happens when they post their parents' secrets on the internet and make out with their friends' parents. 

So if you're anxiously awaiting the release of Miss Rowling's next masterpiece, you're welcome; I've already given you a sneak preview.

What other patterns have you noticed in your favourite books? Leave 'em in the comments. 


  1. This is an excellent analysis. However, since we are in the realms of fantasy, maybe witches are more inclined to have twins? Have you considered being a critic or perhaps teaching literature? You pulled this apart better than my English Litt. teacher did back in the sixties!

    1. Good point, there is something kind of supernatural-feeling about twins.

      I haven't considered becoming a literary critic, but I'm flattered that you think I could! I'll keep it in mind!

  2. good artical. makes a good point


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