J.K. Rowling’s ‘Silkworm’: What the Critics Are Saying

The beloved Harry Potter author continues to try her hand as a mystery novelist in a new book, which hits shelves on June 19.

J.K. Rowling is back with another mystery under her pseudonym, Robert Galbraith. Her new whodunit, The Silkworm, features detective Cormoran Strike and his quest to find missing author Owen Quine.

The Silkworm is set in the world of London literature where Quine goes missing after writing a scandalous novel in which his friends and enemies in the literary world are disguised as characters in the book, leaving many authors, editors and publishers suspects in his disappearance.

The title of Quine’s novel-within-the-novel, Bombyx Mori, is the Latin name for the silkworm, which are beings that must be boiled alive before turning into beautiful creatures, a metaphor Rowling uses to portray the struggles writers go through before finding success.

Reviews for the most part are positive, with publications such as The Telegraph, The Washington PostPeople Magazine and The New York Daily News praising it as likeable, well-paced and smoothly constructed. The New York Times more harshly critiques the book.

Read what the top critics are saying about Rowling’s latest novel:

The Telegraph's Jake Kerridge writes that the novel is “certainly a damn good read. The plot is much more smoothly constructed than in The Cuckoo’s Calling, with Rowling giving her characters room to breathe while still taking a Christie-like delight in the cunning sowing of clues.”

The Washington Post's Louis Bayard notes that “If anything, what makes The Silkworm such a pleasurable read is how avidly Rowling accepts the old rules and embraces (once more) the stability of genre.”

People Magazine's Sue Corbett says the mystery is “Astutely observed, well-paced and full of Rowling's trademark acerbic wit, Silkworm thoroughly engages as a crime novel." Corbett also observes one may enjoy the novel even further if they "read between the lines in search of what Rowling has to say about fame, publishing and the modern writer's life.

 The New York Daily News'  Sherryl Connelly claims “J.K. Rowling can’t hide the fact that she’s found her new groove as a mystery writer, even if she won’t put her name on her new books," in response to Rowling's use of her pseudonym again.

 The New York Times' Michiko Kakutani challenges other reviews by saying: “American readers may have a harder time recognizing the particular subjects of satire here, and Ms. Rowling has some difficulty in the opening chapters of Silkworm establishing the personalities and peccadilloes of the chief suspects, so intent is she on constructing a mystery in which motive grows out of character and past experience, while dealing out some brightly colored red herrings to obscure the real killer."