**Disclaimer: I received a free advanced reader’s copy of Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to them and the publishers for this opportunity.
Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin is a Macbeth retelling as a YA contemporary novel. All the characters from the iconic Shakespearean tragedy have been translated into well off high school students in sunny California. I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads.
Here’s the summary from NetGalley:
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.
Hannah Capin wrote The Dead Queens Club, which was one of my favourite books of 2019. It was a retelling of Henry VIII set in a high school, and I was obsessed with it. So when I heard she was writing a Macbeth retelling, I knew I had to read it. Macbeth is one of my favourite Shakespearean plays and also the first play I ever taught, so it has a special place in my heart. When I saw it on NetGalley, I knew I had to request it, but I never thought I would get it. Then I did and I was so, so excited!
I will fully admit to having high expectations when I went into this book, but it met and exceeded them. This book is already one of my favourites of the year and I can almost guarantee that it will be in my top 5 of 2020. Perhaps that’s a bold statement considering it’s only January, but I loved this book.
The book opens up with a trigger warning, which is a great feature that more books should include. This book discusses the aftermath of a sexual assault, some brief transphobia, and there is a lot of blood and murder. It’s not at all for the weak of heart.
I will say that this book is not at all realistic, but I loved that about it. I loved how true it stayed to the original source material while also adapting it for a modern audience and making it fit into a high school setting. One of my favourite parts of this book was trying to figure out who was who in the book and being delighted when I figured out, for example, that Connor was supposed to be Cawdor. I also loved hearing the story from “Lady Macbeth’s” point of view. She’s such a fascinating character and Capin did a fantastic job translating her into a teenage girl.
Another favourite feature of mine in this book was the friendship. Jade, our protagonist, is backed up by her three best friends (Mads, Summer, and Jenny), who are also known as her coven. They are the literal definition of ride or die friends as they are more than willing to help Jade do whatever she wants to do in the aftermath of her sexual assault, which in this case is murder. I also felt that the background characters were wonderfully detailed. Mads, Summer, and Jenny felt like full people, and there were layers to all the St. Andrew’s boys and girls as well. Well, at least the ones who had names.
Jade was a fascinating character to read, and I felt that she was the perfect protagonist for this story. Obviously she had strengths and flaws, but she made sense as the Lady Macbeth role and the way she plotted out her revenge was fantastic to watch/read about.
Hannah Capin’s prose was beautiful. It was a superbly written book. She wove in actual lines from the play in a way that felt natural for the story and also matched well with the scenes she was retelling. The imagery in this book was really beautiful as well, and some parts of the story were almost borderline poetry. There was this recurring image of wings that I really liked.
There were a lot of sensitive topics dealt with in this book, and I felt that they were handled well. You watch Jade deal with the trauma of what happened to her, without necessarily hearing about the graphic details of what happened. Yes, it’s referenced and certain details about what happened are obvious. However, Capin doesn’t make the reader read in explicit detail what happened, which was refreshing and a great way to do it. We don’t always need to read about a character being raped to know that a character has been raped. It goes without saying that the way that Jade handled what happened to her isn’t the recommended way to deal with it, but what was appreciated was the way everyone who was important to her in her life supported her without judging her for what she needed. They loved her no matter what happened to her.
Finally, I felt like the themes of the book really matched with the themes of the play. Revenge and ambition both being recurring elements in each story. This is probably one of my favourite retellings of all time.
Foul is Fair releases on February 18th, and I highly recommend you get yourself a copy. I definitely will be.
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