The new novel for adults by Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling has become a bestseller in France despite lukewarm reviews here and abroad.
The translated version of "The Casual Vacancy" -- called "Une place a prendre" in French -- got off to a slow start when it debuted in stores on September 28.
But despite the lack of the same enthusiasm that accompanied the release of the Harry Potter books, sales picked up quickly, propelling "The Casual Vacancy" to the number one spot on the Ipsos/Livre Hebdo bestseller list as of Thursday.
"The Casual Vacancy," with its dark plot that features drug addiction and domestic violence, "follows in the footsteps of Charles Dickens" but reaches too far, reviewer Thierry Gandillot wrote in the Les Echos newspaper.
"The mother of Harry Potter wants to show that she's not afraid of anything. That there is life after Hogwarts. But she risks taking it too far" with an excess of dark material, he wrote.
Camille Poirier of L'Express magazine wrote that "Rowling is most convincing when she lingers on everyday details" but fails to follow through with convincing characters.
She takes on "a problem worse than Lord Voldemort: social inequality," Poirier wrote, taking issue with "stereotypical characters who prevent the reader from empathising."