Thank you to Wednesday Books for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Trigger warnings: sexual assault (off-page), rape culture, abusive relationship, bullying, transphobia, suicide attempt. A detailed page of trigger warnings can be found here on the author’s website.
Book: Foul is Fair
Author: Hannah Capin
Year Published: 2020
- Plot: 4/5
- Characters: 4.5/5
- Writing: 5/5
- Overall: 4/5
Foul is Fair was a dark tale inspired by Macbeth about revenge after sexual assault and about survivors taking power into their own hands. It a was a raw, raging and visceral read.
On the night of Elizabeth Jade Khanjara’s sweet sixteen, she crashed a St. Andrew’s Prep party with her closest friends- Mads, Jenny and Summer. She became the target of a group of rich, privileged ‘golden boys’ who drugged then sexually assaulted/ raped her, thinking she wouldn’t remember, that they’d get away with it like they always did. But not this time. Because, although Jade’s memory of what happened was fragmented she remembered enough and she and her coven of friends swore to take every single person involved down.
Jade (our Lady Macbeth) didn’t want to be a victim or a survivor, she wanted to be an avenger. She was fierce and there would be consequences for anyone who crossed her or her friends. Her way of dealing with what happened to her was completely detaching herself from who she was before. She changed her name, dyed her hair ‘revenge black’ and became a new person, filled with rage. She targeted everyone involved- including the people who gave her the drink, who guarded the door, who stood by and did nothing- and transferred to St. Andrews Prep. Mack (our Macbeth) seemed to be the only member of their group who wasn’t involved and she exploited and amplified his hesitant ambition to pit them all against each other, manipulate their fears and make them meet their ends.
As a character, Jade was brutal. She revelled in exacting her revenge and wielding her power and she didn’t hold back. Her coven of friends were equally brutal and extremely loyal to one another. I liked their tight-knit friendship, how they could trust each other completely. In terms of Macbeth, they were like the witches, spreading toil and trouble and lurking in the background to ensure everything went to plan. The ‘golden boys’ were all on the lacrosse team and observed a strict ranking. Duncan was their ‘king’ and they were all abhorrent human beings, raping and assaulting girls at parties because they knew there would be no consequences for them- until Jade came along.
The writing style in the novel was unlike anything else I’ve ever encountered. It was disjointed, uncompromising and razor-sharp– at times extremely dramatic. I loved it and I think it worked really well with the story but I do think there will be some people who find it an odd and confusing style to follow, it’s just a matter of taste.
The reason I dropped a star was that many parts of the book were very unrealistic. In real life, I don’t think Jade’s plan would have worked out how it did in the novel. For example, the way Mack fell in love with her after a day or so and soon enough was willing to kill for her was very unconvincing.
I think the novel aimed to be as dramatic and vicious as possible to make a statement. Because while murder is never the answer, perpetrators of assault/ rape shouldn’t be allowed to escape justice, survivors and victims need to feel empowered not let down by the authorities. Another thing I liked was the message that there’s no right way of being a survivor and the people around Jade like her friends and parents were very supportive.
In conclusion, Foul is Fair was a ruthless tale about revenge, with social commentary on rape culture that made for a gripping read.