REVIEW: Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin Was A Modern Macbeth. What Did I Think Of I It?
Hello Fellow Readerholics,
I read ‘Foul Is Fair’ about a week ago and it took me about a week to recover from it. It’s a modern Macbeth retelling which is actually super helpful as I’m doing the original Macbeth in English right now. I’m posting a fair bit at the moment because I feel as if I may or may not have neglected my duties here but it’s all good.
NO SPOILERS (as always), trigger warning for rape/sexual assault, extreme violence
Elle and her friends Mads, Jenny, 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 Elle’s sweet sixteen, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party. The night the golden boys choose Elle as their next target.
They picked the wrong girl.
Sworn to vengeance, Elle transfers to St. Andrew’s. 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.
Foul is Fair is a bloody, thrilling revenge fantasy for the girls who have had enough. Golden boys beware: something wicked this way comes.
This book was a lot. It was a very intense and dark read but I found myself really enjoying it for the most part. It does talk about sexual assault but it I didn’t find that anything was described in vivid detail so I feel like most people would be able to handle it.
If anyone here has read Macbeth, you would know that there is a lot of murder. This book, like Macbeth, has a lot of violent, fairly gruesome murder that I obviously do not condone. Normally, I would be a bit apprehensive about recommending a book where the protagonist (who you’re supposed to root for) is a violent murderer but this book isn’t about killing. It’s about young women taking back their power and it is highly unrealistic. Nobody actually acts like that (irl) so I don’t find any problem with the nature of the crimes.
I did find Jade a bit difficult to read at times because the way she talks just annoyed me at times. A lot of it is because NOBODY TALKS/ACTS LIKE THAT. I found her hard to relate to because of how different her personality is from anyone I’ve ever interacted with but I think, in a funny way, it worked. If she acted like a normal, real person her behaviour would be so much more concerning but because she was almost a caricature of a person it made her behaviour easier to swallow.
This book has a lot of themes of power, particularly power imbalance. Obviously, there is a major power imbalance when Elle/Jade is sexually assaulted but it also talks a lot about power imbalances within high school social hierarchies. A really big part of Jade’s plan is to become the most powerful, popular girl at St Andrew’s and it’s also how she convinces Mack to take on the role of Macbeth in this instance. She convinces him that power is his right and that there is only one way to take it (murder). I think that the reason Jade was so focussed on being this almighty, powerful person is due to her trauma and her fear of going back to a time when she was so weak.
The relationships in this book are absolutely fascinating. As people start dying, the dynamics of the St Andrew’s group shifts so drastically. Nobody trusts each other as they don’t know who is doing the killing. People are fearful and we see that so clearly in this book when people begin to crack. I think this aspect of the book was written insanely well as you see people slowly beginning to break as they fear a betrayal from the people they trust the most, their friends.
Jade’s friendship group (outside of St Andrew’s) is also super interesting. On the outside, they’re all really tight knit and trusting of each other but I often got the vibe that they didn’t entirely trust each other either. There are moments when the group interacts that everything just felt so tense and that tension built more and more towards the end. I didn’t have particularly strong feelings about any of her friends but the way Jade talks about Mads (her closest friend in the group) is so pure and trusting and I just adore it.
If you’ve read Macbeth you’ll know that in the end he dies. Now that doesn’t happen here but it still isn’t a necessarily happy ending. The ending gives Jade quite a glum outlook but all previous tension in the book is gone, because even though it wasn’t a happy end Jade still found her peace and I thought that was really important.
Overall, I liked this book a lot. I found the themes and relationships to be really interesting and I’m quite glad it was unrealistic. I rate it a 3.7/5.
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