I honestly didn't know what to expect going into this book, but I'm very glad I gave it a fair shot by reading it all the way through, as it turned out to be a solid book. Well written with intriguingly flawed human characters; might not call it a great work of literature, but it was one of the better books I have read recently.
I'm really glad J.K. Rowling departed from what she's know for and decided to write a realistic fiction piece that wasn't plot driven, but character driven. She proved she was a good writer with that one series that shall not be named in this review, and she continued to prove that she's very good with character development throughout the course of this novel as well.
I must admit here that the beginning of the novel (the first 50 + pages to be exact) is boring. However, it's kind of ingenious when you look back at the beginning once you've come to the end, in how she introduces all the players (there are a lot of them) and how they all know one another in the smallest small town on Earth. Then she goes into the backgrounds/inner thoughts of all the characters, which was when I really got sucked into the book and the pages started to turn much faster. I also liked the ingenuity of using Barry Fairbrother's death as jumping point from which the story starts, not as the main story line. Oh and the drama and conflict on all levels was really well done, as well was the ending, which was moving even though a bit sad. (Read here: I was glad I didn't read the ending in public as I cried like a little baby)
Well done J.K. Rowling, well done. I applaud you for this novel and can't wait to read whatever your next book might be. I seriously mean that.