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.
“Vicious and beautifully brutal, Foul is Fair gives a sword to every girl who has ever been a victim and makes them a warrior. This book is pulls no punches and will make anyone think twice before uttering the phrase ‘just a girl’. An unapologetic feminist battle-cry that leaves you breathless and thirsting for vengeance.” – Sonia Hartl, author of Have a Little Faith in Me
Foul is Fair is a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s MacBeth. The title derives from a quote in the play where the three witches chant “Foul is fair and fair is foul.” to indicate what is bad for others works quite well for them. For the most part Capin capitalizes on the saying’s other meaning that appearances may be deceiving – where golden boys are tarnished and revenge may just be the equivalent of justice.
While reading this book I couldn’t help thinking of this English class I took in college called The Revenge Theory. We read books like Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and Hamlet. We watched The War of the Roses and both versions of Fatal Attraction with Glenn Close. What stuck with me most was the idea that the avenger must be careful to not let their emotions rule them lest they themselves be destroyed. Swimming in my head as I read this book were Confucious’ warning – “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, first dig two graves.” and the adage “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” I kept waiting for the axe to fall; part of me expecting Jade to suffer for her vengefulness, the other part of me hoping that the boys got their just desserts.
I recognize that revenge and justice are typically polar opposites. Revenge is driven by anger. Justice is meted out with considerable thought. Revenge is often a cycle where violence begets more violence. Justice brings closure. But Foul is Fair had me asking or perhaps wanting for them to be the same thing. I was hoping that Jade could keep her stuff together long enough to think rationally and execute her plan. When Elle was raped her attackers did not even own their guilt. To them she was not a person but only a means to their gratification. In their eyes they were not responsible for her pain. They were assured and confident because they were used to wielding the power and dominating the landscape. Their wealth had always granted them a shield of invincibility. They thought they were untouchable.
Throughout the novel Capin plays on the “foul is fair” motif asking the reader to dig deeper to derive from the symbolism in the text. In numerology the number 7 stands for perfection and realization. In Foul is Fair there are seven perpetrators, seven intended victims of Jade’s wrath. People whose life path number is seven are said to not take things at face value. Instead they search for understanding to get at the truth.
Metaphors with animals are used to describe the characters and reveal their true natures. The boys are likened to wolves as they rove and hunt in packs and to denote their cruelty. The second string girls are called birds. They flock and flitter and fly off at the flick of a wrist. This is to emphasize their social stature within the school. Birds are also used as a bad omen as they perch in Oleander trees.
Although many of the characters names have direct counterparts in Shakespeare’s MacBeth a few of the names serve as banners for their personalities. Lilia for the flower Lily as she comes off as pretty, fragile and delicate. Connor is the conman that nobody really trusts. Piper is a common bird. The female sandpiper is polyandrous – she mates with several males during breeding season. I’m not sure whether this is a hint to Piper’s commonality, an allusion to the fact that she will never be Queen or a nod to her unfaithfulness to Lilia, that she cannot be trusted. Another interesting factoid about female spotted sandpipers is that it is the female that lays claim to and defends nesting grounds. Within her couple Piper certainly had the stronger backbone and had no problem marking her territory. Jade, the color, represents envy. Her green eyes serve as mirror to reflect the jealousy in the hearts of the boys as they each covet Duncan’s position. Jade, the gem, symbolizes balance or in this case the scales of justice.
I really enjoyed reading Foul is Fair. The symbolism gave me a lot to think about. Even though this is a retelling you do not have to read MacBeth to appreciate this book. The book may be purchased from Wednesday Books or your local bookstore.
Meet the Author
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.
Author Website: Hannahcapin.com
Author’s Twitter/Instagram: @tldaaollf