In JK Rowling's estimation, just seven people read the final Harry Potter book before it was published. But the New Yorker has already managed a read of her first adult novel, out Thursday, and it's definitely for adults. One quotation, for instance: "The leathery skin of her upper cleavage radiated little cracks that no longer vanished when decompressed." Still, The Casual Vacancy is no Fifty Shades of Grey: Instead, it's "a rural comedy of manners" that "builds into black melodrama." Set in an isolated English town, one Potter fan calls it Mugglemarch.
Indeed, it does bear similarities to Potter in its coming-of-age elements—not to mention its interest in "mortality, morality, the two things that I obsess about," Rowling says. Writing for adults, it seems, was freeing: "There are certain things you just don’t do in fantasy. You don’t have sex near unicorns. It’s an ironclad rule," the author notes. Already, the book has garnered a million pre-orders, making it one of this century's top releases, the Telegraph reports. "I think 99.9% of us (in the industry) are predicting it will go straight to number one," says an analyst. (Read more JK Rowling stories.)