Retellings are a particular favorite form of storytelling. Among the ones I’ve read are typically fairy tales, such as Beauty & the Beast (Brigid Kemmerer’s A Curse So Dark & Lonely) or Snow White (the Evil Queen’s story in Julia C. Dao’s Forest of a Thousand Lanterns).
Hannah Capin’s Foul is Fair, however, delves into a darker, more delicious corner of retelling by taking up the mantle of a Shakespearean tale: Macbeth. One of the darkest of the Bard’s stories, the haunted threads of the Scottish play wind through time to a modern take that is Elizabeth Jade Khanjara and her Coven.
After a sweet sixteen when Jade is targeted by the boys of St. Andrews Prep, Foul is Fair becomes a book full of much darkness, deliciously full of vengeance, and depths the reader plunges to with Jade and the other girls in her Coven as they follow their wicked path.
Thank you to the Wednesday Books team for including me in the blog tour for Hannah Capin’s new book.
Published: 18 February 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genre(s): Young Adult/Contemporary/Retellings
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.
Representation: Indian-American MC, trans SC, MGA SC, Korean-American SC
sexual assault (including drugging someone’s drink), rape, rape culture, gender-based violence, abusive relationship, physical violence, gore, murder, bullying and transphobia, suicide, substance abuse, vigilantism and revenge.
From the author’s website: the primary thematic material of FOUL IS FAIR centers on sexual assault (not depicted), rape culture, and violence. additionally, the book includes an abusive relationship, a suicide attempt, and a brief scene with transphobic bullying. for a more detailed description of sensitive content, continue reading. these notes will contain spoilers for FOUL IS FAIR. <– follow the link for further details
Foul is Fair is interesting because Jade and her Coven are, by their own admission, not likeable girls. Before all the machinations, before all the deceptions, before the book even opens, they were what would probably be termed Mean Girls. There are still likeable things within their makeup, though. The tight knit makeup of their group, the way they are ride or die for one another. Mads, especially, embodies this quality as Jade espouses more than once. Since the four girls met one another as children, there are multiple examples.
As the Lady Macbeth character in this retelling, Jade isn’t really here to be likeable, though. It’s refreshing to have a book that has this dynamic of two unlikeable sides, but one that you can side with because no matter how unlikeable someone is, they don’t deserve what happened in the opener of Foul is Fair.
The vengeance path that Jade sets upon with the aide of her coven drew me in. I had to know more not only because I wanted to know that these criminals would get what they deserved, but because Jade and the Coven’s determination and game board style of planning was fascinating.
Aesthetically, Hannah Capin captures moments when her characters are enacting their machinations so thematically that it is easy to visualize each moment in your mind. From the descriptions of St. Andrews Prep, straight out of Scotland and settled into the landscape of Los Angeles, to the late afternoon sunlight the flashes across Jade’s eyes like a scene out of The Addams Family featuring Morticia, these all layout a beautiful scene.
Fair is Foul is a thrilling retelling of Macbeth and something entirely its own. Hannah Capin’s sophomore novel is a story of friendship, vengeance, terror, and more that will entice the reader to stay up long into the night to see what wicked thing comes next.
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 received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review as part of a blog tour. Quotes included are from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the finalized copy.