Hello everyone! I am lucky enough to be joining the blog tour today for Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin. This book, a clever retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, is SO good, and I can’t wait to share my thoughts with you in this review.
Please note that this book (and my review of it) discusses sexual assault. Further content warnings can be found at the bottom of this post, as well as on the author’s website, here.
Hannah Capin’s Foul is Fair is a bloody, thrilling revenge fantasy for the girls who have had enough. Golden boys beware: something wicked this way comes.
Jade and her friends Jenny, Mads, and Summer rule their glittering LA circle. Untouchable, they have the kind of power other girls only dream of. Every party is theirs and the world is at their feet. Until the night of Jade’s sweet sixteen, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party. The night the golden boys choose Jade as their next target.
They picked the wrong girl.
Sworn to vengeance, Jade transfers to St. Andrew’s Prep. She plots to destroy each boy, one by one. She’ll take their power, their lives, and their control of the prep school’s hierarchy. And she and her coven have the perfect way in: a boy named Mack, whose ambition could turn deadly.
Here’s why I loved Foul is Fair so much:
💄 Powerful discussion of rape and rape culture
Foul is Fair stands out in the way that it explores the aftermath of rape by employing themes of revenge and ruthless murder. Though certainly disturbing and morally gray at times, Jade’s story is also one of resilience and strength; it’s about a whip-smart girl who seizes power from the boys who tried to take it from her, by any means necessary.
One of the most important messages that the book gets across is that no one deserves to be sexually assaulted. Jade is not a great person, but it doesn’t matter: what happened to her is still inexcusable.
The novel also utilizes a side character, Piper, to explore how some girls perpetuate rape culture via slut-shaming, etc., which I though was a really interesting and necessary addition.
💄 Clever retelling of a classic
First and foremost, I should say that I don’t think you need to be familiar with Macbeth to get something out of this story. That said, I did enjoy Foul is Fair more than I would’ve had I not already read the Shakespeare play.
Obviously, there are many differences between Macbeth and this novel. The main character is a teenage girl (the “Lady Macbeth” figure, loosely). It has a ritzy Los Angeles setting, as opposed to 11th century Scotland. But many themes and motifs carry over, and I loved being able to pick apart the various parallels. A new layer of suspense was present as I kept wondering which aspects of Macbeth the author would weave into the story and which ones she would leave behind.
One of the pitfalls of the original play (and a lot of Shakespeare’s work in general, I believe) is its lack of depth in its female characters (specifically Lady Macbeth, since she’s the only woman who has a significant role). Though still an interesting character, Lady Macbeth’s story underwhelmed me when I read the classic, and Foul is Fair rectified this shortcoming.
Though there is no doubt that Jade is the “Lady Macbeth” of this novel—she’s cunning, cruel, and ambitious, and she uses men to get what she wants—her narrative diverges from Lady Macbeth’s in some significant ways that I really, really liked. (I’m not trying to spoil anything, so you’ll have to read the book to see what I mean.)
💄 Strong female friendship
Foul is Fair features an incredibly powerful friendship between Jade and the three girls meant to represent the witches of Macbeth. (The four girls are often referred to as a “coven.”) The individual characters probably could’ve been fleshed out a bit more, but nevertheless, I loved how close they were and how supportive they were of each other.
💄 Fantastic writing
Additionally, Foul is Fair is just a damn good story that’s dazzlingly well-written. I was hooked from the start, and the suspense continued throughout the entire novel.
Hannah Capin’s writing is gorgeously haunting. I’ve heard some reviewers say that they thought it was too heavy on the figurative language, but it’s definitely a matter of personal preference; I loved the writing style.
To give you a small taste, here’s the opening line:
“Sweet sixteen is when the claws come out.”
This book is so, so powerful. It’s sinister, empowering, and brilliantly written; I highly recommend it.
Diversity Rep: Indian-American main character; Black and trans major character; Korean-American major character; non-straight major character
Warnings: rape (not narrated, but referenced often and there are a few flashbacks); roofie; rape culture and slut-shaming; violence (including gore and murder); abusive relationship; self-harm; suicide attempts; a brief instance of transphobic bullying (not at all condoned by the narrative); teen alcohol and drug abuse (more detail on these warnings here)
You can read the first two chapters of Foul is Fair here. Enjoy!
Hannah Capin is the author of Foul is Fair and The Dead Queens Club, a feminist retelling of the wives of Henry VIII. When she isn’t writing, she can be found singing, sailing, or pulling marathon gossip sessions with her girl squad. She lives in Tidewater, Virginia.
I hope you enjoyed this review! Let me know in the comments—are you planning on reading Foul is Fair? Have you read Hannah Capin’s debut, The Dead Queens Club? (I haven’t, but now I really want to.)
Thank you so much to Wednesday Books for including me on the blog tour and for providing me with a review copy! This in no way affected my opinion of the book.