Review: Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin (Blog Tour)

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.

Disclaimer: As a part of this blog tour, I received an eARC in exchange for posting my review on this tour. All opinions are my own, however.

Content warning for Foul is Fair: rape, murder, suicide attempt, sexism

Foul is Fair is a Macbeth retelling (but from the POV of Lady Macbeth) that I can only describe as “hyperreal.” I’ve seen some Quintin Tarantino comparisons, which seems very accurate based on the third of Pulp Fiction I’ve seen. The writing with its various euphemisms (like wings, claws, and fangs for body parts), the “coven” of girls who aren’t actually magical (but clearly the Witches from the source materials), and the intense violence create this unreal sheen on top of it all. The writing itself does so much to craft the tone and the world. This also makes it a pretty fast read. Just like Macbeth, I wouldn’t call this book realistic, and that’s intentional. (This might also mean it isn’t for you–I don’t think it was for me for that reason.)

“Revenge fantasy,” as the blurb says, is entirely accurate. Jade plots out revenge against the gang of boys who rape her which all works out almost entirely well. I think it’s definitely valid that those who are assaulted/raped experience a need to redefine themselves, rage, and are distanced from their emotions and reality–and as the story goes on, her PTSD creeps through. But if you want a realistic story about trauma and the aftermath of sexual assault, this isn’t it. And so, I think there can be various responses to this. Some might find it an empowering fantasy. But for me, revenge isn’t justice. It’s kind of a superficial, and unfortunately, rape revenge storylines are a trope that feels falsely empowering to me. The way Jade talks about how they “picked the wrong girl” also gave off this “not like other girls” vibes, like she was the strong one to put an end to it. At the same time, I can see it being like one of those fun, over-the-top social commentary movies (preferably not directly by Tarantino).

Sometimes it could feel like it was going through the motions of a Macbeth retelling, but I appreciated the twists near the end. I also had a good laugh how the boy guarding the door was “Porter.” I also appreciated how one of Jade’s friends in her “coven” is a trans girl, although I wish more time was spent with her support systems of her family and her friends than at St. Andrew’s. I was hoping it would cut just a little deeper (no pun intended!) into the humanity of it all and be a little more grounded in reality.

Foul is Fair is for you if you like violent thrillers with social commentary, Macbeth, and the satisfaction of a revenge fantasy toppling privileged rapists. But if you want something a little more grounded in reality, this might not be the book for you.

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