Cover Image: Foul is Fair

Foul is Fair

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Recommended: YES
For those who are not faint of heart, for an incredible parallel to Macbeth that still retains it's own integrity, for darkness and viciousness in many forms, for complexities of vengeance and fate and evil

The language: vague yet beautiful. It's almost poetic, which is a nice match to the story (play) it's inspired by. Sometimes you're not sure what's real and what's figurative, and that uncertainty works so well with the story to make it hard to trust your narrator. It's a very powerful technique, and draws the story down so deep.

The inspiration: I can very clearly see the parallels to Macbeth, and for me it added so much to the story. It was such fun to see how events were similar, but interpreted in the modern context and with the situation that started it all. With that said, though, it wasn't so much the same that it became a foil to the original. This book stands all on its own, and someone with no knowledge of Macbeth will get a lot out of it as well as someone who's become a Macbeth Master.

The witchiness: I did not anticipate this, and a lot of the time characters who are not literal witches and refer to each other as their 'coven' can really turn me off for feeling childish. But this, this worked. Partly because these girls are fate, reflecting their other sides found in Macbeth.

The ending: I wasn't sure how that would play out, and oh my god. Just.... oh my god. ♥

I'm DEFINITELY going to be using this in classes in the future. It's quite dark though, so it would have to be with older students. There were times while reading where I had to take a break and read something lighter (I Love You So Mochi served me well) to detox a bit from the brutality. Might be a good idea to have one on reserve to break it up when you need to come up for air.

Thanks to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Foul is fair and fair is foul. This story is a bit supernatural in the minds of teenage girls and the way they behave. The things they do or cause are horrible and the way they set out for revenge is a bit dramatic.

I don’t condone or excuse what happened to Elle, but her revenge is way over the top. The thing is though, these days with media how it is, they tend to think the way she does and it’s really sad.

I did find it strange the girls kept referring to themselves as a coven.

Grab it and dive in.

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I thought this book was just great. I would love to have it in any of my high school classrooms as a companion text for Shakespeare. This book is a modern re-telling of Macbeth, if Lady Macbeth was a high school student and was part of the coven of witches. After a party goes terribly wrong, Jade and her friends vow to get revenge on the boys who hurt her. The names and main events of the story are so clever and well-done, and I think it helps us get a new understanding on the classic and enigmatic character of Lady Macbeth.

This good is a great way to engage teenagers to read more about Shakespeare, and caused me to look at this classic in a new light. I would love to see more modernization of classic stories, especially Shakespeare.

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The premise and themes of this book are spectacular. However, I just couldn't care about any of the characters because of how one dimensional they all are. I found them completely interchangeable and unmemorable. I think if there had been fewer characters, and if the setups and execution for each murder hadn't moved so quickly there would have been much more depth to the story.

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Foul is Fair is a knockout. This is easily a recommended first purchase for all YA and HS collections.

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I thought I'd enjoy this book like a lot of other reviewers did but I added it to my "do not finish list" because I just couldn't. I got 34% in so I gave it a decent chance.

I did like the beautiful, at times, lyrical writing. I also appreciated the attempt to modernize Macbeth, for teens who can never quite see the brilliance of the original play.

But, in the same way, I didn't like the drastic parallelism to Macbeth, one of the Shakespearean plays I actually enjoy. It felt too forced, down to the character names. From the summary, I knew Macbeth was a parallel for the book but I didn't realize to what extreme and it was too much for this gal.

I also didn't like the repetitiveness of the narrator. Okay, I get it. You're evil and conniving and seeking revenge with this twisted plot but do I need to be reminded of that every other paragraph?

I'm sure some of my students would still enjoy it as it's an angsty, dark teen thriller that deals with the aftermath of rape and then rape culture. I'll still tell them about it because it might then interest them in Macbeth at the end of the day!

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Such a cool retelling of MacBeth! Seriously could not put it down and I'll read anything Hannah Capin writes in the future!

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** Trigger warning for violence against women, including rape and domestic abuse, as well as murder and suicide. ***

I said, I spat, I swore: You picked the wrong girl.
They did.
They had to.
It could only be me.
Not the first—
—but the last, the last, the last.
They picked the right girl.

“We’ll be the witches they don’t believe in until it’s too late.”

Elle, Mads, Summer, and Jenny: young, wealthy, powerful, privileged. The quartet of besties rules their LA social circle: “We were middle school six months early, wearing our shiny new crowns before anyone else knew a monarchy was coming.” They are as ruthless as they are rich. Summer ruins starry-eyed boys for fun; Jenny can kill with her saccharine sweetness. Mads is the daughter of a crime boss who taught her and Elle to defend themselves when Mads came out as trans and was bullied at school. Ride or die? They coined the term, b****es.

When they crash a party at St. Andrew’s Preparatory School to celebrate Elle’s sweet sixteen, the golden boys on the lacrosse team separate Elle from her pack, like so many wolves on the hunt. Duncan, king/captain, singles Elle out for slaughter; his younger brother, Malcolm, slips Rohypnol into her drink; and Porter guards the door while teammates Duncan, Duffy, Connor, and Banks take turns raping her. Duffy’s on-again, off-again girlfriend Piper witnesses the assault, but does nothing to stop it.

Elle arises from the ashes like a phoenix transformed: she is the same hard, cruel girl she was, but *more*. Now she is Jade with the razor-sharp claws, hair shorn and colored REVENGE black, eyes obscured by contacts that match her new name. She promptly enrolls in St. Andrew’s Prep and vows to get her bloody satisfaction before the week is out, before her bruises (and their scratch marks) have a chance to heal. Jade and her coven hatch a plan to take the golden boys (and one flock girl) down, all at the hand of one of their own.

FOUL IS FAIR is wild and audacious, in the best way possible. I almost passed on it, because Jade and her crew seem like characters I’d otherwise loathe: part of the 1%, kids who use their parents’ influence to get away with all sorts of transgressions, including bloody murder. (Think: the Drumpf kids, but with more panache and intelligence.)

But I do love me a good rape revenge story, and this one is in a class of its own: KILL BILL (which is of course I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE + Bruce Lee) meets MEAN GIRLS meets THE CRAFT. Plus, for all her casual cruelty, the objects of Jade’s malice usually have it coming, for one reason or another. She is an avenging angel, if a fallen one at that. (Summer, though – Summer I wonder about. Spin-off, please? And a sequel for Lilia, I feel like that chick could be going places.)

I also found myself falling in like with the parents, again in spite of myself. I mean, these are some pretty terrible people: Jenny’s dad is a sleazy defense attorney who gets paid to victim-blame girls like Elle, and did I mention that Mads’s dad is a literal organized crime boss? Yet, despite their many flaws, these adults support their kids unconditionally – and not just monetarily, e.g., by buying their way out of trouble. Instead of putting a hit out on his daughter’s tormentors, Mads’s dad taught her how to fight…and then didn’t bat an eye when Elle casually mentioned that they were going to kill the bullies, not just kick their asses. Ditto Elle’s parents when, upon learning of their daughter’s assault, were content enough to let Elle handle it, her way. Murder heavily implied.

Is FOUL IS FAIR in any way, shape, or form believable? Nah. Unlike with THE SWALLOWS – another recent book tackling rape culture and sexual assault in an insular and privileged high school community – I can’t with a straight face insist that I can picture this playing out outside of the big (or little) screen. And that’s okay! FOUL IS FAIR is a deliciously savage rape revenge fantasy. One hundred percent, complete and total escapism and wish fulfillment.

I mean, if we can’t get justice in the real world, we deserve to see it with compounded, payday loan-esque interest in the fictional realm, right? (Trust me, patriarchy, you’re still getting the better end of the deal.)

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I received a copy of FOUL IS FAIR from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. Thank you to the author and publisher.

FIVE STARS and here’s why:

This book really opened my eyes to the world of teen revenge served cold. Holy moly. It’s a disturbing and suspenseful #metoo story with sophisticated venom that will make your head spin and your mind whirl. The story shows us that no one should assume anything at face value and that no one is safe from prejudice or misunderstanding or judgment. Each character in this book is well written, the dialogue realistic, and the witchy plot kept me up all night to learn what happens next. I could not put it down. I believe this is book should be required reading in high school.

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From the beginning to the end this was an amazing read. It had flowery language that made everything seem more fantastic and magical, the revenge plot had me on the edge of my seat. I ended up going to bed so late because I couldn't put this down and I don't regret it. This was an amazing read that I need on my bookshelf ASAP.

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A modern day retelling of Macbeth. Beautifully written. It’s very vivid, and colorful throughout. It’s full of revenge and girl power. It is exciting and I would love to see a movie made. It is somewhat dark but it’s really well done. I love the imagery used.

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“Just girls, says the boy with teeth that won’t cut. Just girls, about Mads with her foot slamming the accelerator all the way into the floor, hands that know how to fight, nerves that know how to kill. Just girls, about Summer’s poison lips, about Jenny’s whiplash temper that could destroy anyone before they even knew she was swinging for them.”

Elle Khanjara—now known as Jade—is freshly sixteen with a vendetta against a group of St. Andrew’s golden boys who took everything from her. After a brutal assault, she is left with a ripped dress and revenge on her mind. With her group of friends, aptly named the coven, Jade concocts a plan to burn St. Andrews down, golden boy by golden boy, until nothing remains but ashes.

Foul is Fair is a compulsive read. Jade’s mind is a compelling place to be, where her words ring fast and sharp like the claws of a hawk. The style of writing is simple, yet complex, and the pacing make it so you physically cannot stop reading this book. Trust me and my tired eyes.

It’s refreshing to read about an angry girl, one who will stop at nothing to achieve her revenge. I’ve read some tough books exploring the aftermath of assault, but nothing with such sharp teeth. This novel is extremely relevant to today and the way we view boys in high school and college, the boys who get away with everything because everyone lets them, the boys who walk free after taking what doesn’t belong to them. And, Jade took action to make sure these boys could never hurt anyone again.

Perhaps what feels most believable to me is Jade’s coven, a group of girls with unique talents and personalities. Their cinematic lives are something out of a CW show, except with more bite. They are ruthless and cunning and the kind of friends everyone should have, the ones who help you get away with insane plans and cover your tracks when you can’t. It’s such a fresh take on the “mean girls”, the kind of girls we all secretly wish we could be. The kind of girls we all secretly are, deep down inside.

I did find some issue with the amount of characters in this novel. In the beginning, I found myself rereading certain conversations because I couldn’t remember who said what and which boy Jade addressed. And that’s partly my fault for how fast I found myself reading. After I was about halfway through, that didn’t happen as much as I knew the characters better. Also, some of the symbolism fell a little flat for me. It didn’t seem necessary and kind of took away from the realness of this novel.

Overall, though, I thought this novel was excellently written, portraying a sixteen year old girl as capable of anything, which I think is exactly what girls need to read, because teenaged girls really are capable of anything.

4/5 stars

*Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.

Content warnings: sexual assault (not depicted), rape culture, violence, abusive relationship, suicide attempt, and a brief scene including transphobic bullying

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Wow, this book... it’s a modern YA retelling of Macbeth meets Cruel Intentions, meets the darkest fantasies of any #MeToo story you could imagine.

It needs trigger warnings which is does include in the beginning... flashbacks of rape and a whole lot of dark content. It also requires a certain suspension of disbelief both for the content and the pacing but not to the point where I was taken out of the story. The way it’s written is almost lyrical in its darkness and I was happy to see a diverse main character.

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Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin

Wednesday Books, 2020

ISBN-13: 978-1250239549

Available: Hardcover, Kindle edition, audiobook, audio CD

Sixteen year old Elle and her friends Jenny, Summer, and Mads, are glamorous, vicious, daughters of the ultra-rich whose parents have given them a lot of freedom, When the four girls crash a party for the lacrosse team for the elite prep school, St. Andrews, what starts out as fun becomes a lot less so as the girls are separated and most of the lacrosse team colludes in drugging and raping Elle.

But this is not the story of Elle as either a victim or a survivor. This is the story of how Elle plans to kill off every member of the lacrosse team who had any kind of involvement in orchestrating or participating in her rape, backed by her friends, or "coven".  As she looks at a photo of the St. Andrews lacrosse team, she spots one boy who was not involved, and decides she's going to manipulate him into killing his teammates.  Cutting and dyeing her hair, she transfers to St. Andrews to get close to her future victims, and especially, to get close to Mack, the player who didn't take part, so she can convince him that knocking off his teammates is the right thing to do, and set him up as the fall guy. Even falling in love with him-- and she thinks she might be falling in love with him-- isn't enough to take her mind and her heart off vengeance.

Foul and Fair takes its inspiration from Shakespeare's Macbeth, positioning Elle's friends as the three witches, Elle as Lady Macbeth, and Mack as Macbeth. Rather than convincing him to kill out of ambition, though, Elle convinces him he is killing out of righteousness.  Elle's murderous anger slashes through the book.

Unfortunately, the scenario of entitled, rich, white guys raping a girl at a party without having to face consequences isn't an unrealistic one, and certainly Elle's feelings, and the bonds of her friendships, are strong. But the likelihood of the girls getting away with tormenting and setting up the members of the lacrosse team, especially without getting caught, is something the reader really has to buy into, as is the likelihood of Elle convincing a guy she's known less than a week to kill his best friend.

Elle is not a sympathetic character (neither is Lady Macbeth, to be fair) although we get to see a few heroic moments in flashbacks to the beginnings of the four girls' friendships, like her defense of Mads, a trans girl, on the day Mads outed herself at school (Mads is a great character who doesn't get enough time, and Capin writes her wonderfully). Whatever else they are, Elle and her "coven" have each other's backs. These four girls, and the way they're described, although poetic, reveals that they are a pretty terrifying bunch. I'm doubtful that this will appeal to boys, even though it does a pretty good job of laying out the complicity of even those who aren't directly involved, and they're the ones who need to see that. But readers looking for a revenge fantasy with sharp teeth won't be disappointed. Recommended.

Contains: flashbacks to rape, sexual assault, abusive behaviors, bullying, transphobic bullying, brief depictions of suicide, substance abuse, cursing, violence, gore, murder.

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Do you remember that feeling you got when you first saw Cruel Intentions? Like, could this movie be more messed up and delicious? That's the exact way I felt when reading this book. It is delightfully dark--and not just in that way we say something is super dark in YA, but this really, really takes an absolutely timely topic and turns it on it's head. Nay, cuts its head right off.

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I hate this and I love it? Such an addictive, fast paced novel--definitely fun to read, and I can for sure see this as a TV show in the vein of CW. It's high school revenge porn at it's finest. However, it's definitely violent and triggering ala 13 Reasons Why--and I don't want to see girls getting themselves in trouble for murdering their attackers. Still, I can see this book making a huge splash!

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TW: sexual assault, rape, rape culture, gender based violence, abusive relationships, physical violence, gore, murder, bullying, transphobia, suicide, self harm, and substance abuse.

This has to be one of the most well written books I've ever read. All of the topics are handled so well. And for the first time I didn't really know what was going to happen. I kind of figured out what the twist was, but everything else was new. The writing is so beautiful and lyrical and I honestly can't wait to own a physical edition of this book.

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This book is so necessary in a painful, raw kind of way that I think a lot of people won’t know how to handle. Elle is a victim and a survivor and she’s going to get revenge, and you root for her because you know how similar stories have gone time and time again. You want to see a different ending for this one. It’s uncomfortable. It’s brutal. It’s scary because it’s so reminiscent of reality.

I devoured this book in two days and didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. I highly recommend this book, however encourage readers to be mindful that there is off page sexual assault, gore, self harm, and other potentially harmful content (which is listed at the beginning of the book).

I was given an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for this honest review.

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**Disclaimer: I was given an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.**

I really, really tried to push through this book that is noted as a retelling of "Macbeth", but I just couldn't. Somehow, you're expected to believe all of this happens within a span of a week, instead of over years and years of emotional and psychological manipulation. ...

*Triggers/Notes: 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, please visit

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Thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for allowing me to read Foul is Fair in exchange for a honest review. I’m going to think about this story for a long time. It’s a hauntingly beautiful book that keeps you wondering where things are going to go next. I truly can’t wait for it to be released in 2020 so it can be seen for the wonder this novel is.

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