Misty's Reviews > Foul Is Fair

Foul Is Fair by Hannah Capin
Rate this book
Clear rating

My phone did a weird thing and marked this 3 stars and I DON'T KNOW WHY, BUT ANYWAY, this was stellar. Definitely not to everyone's tastes, but it's gonna stick with me. Review to come.


I've been talking about Foul is Fair in some capacity or another, online and off, for months now. And nearly every time, the words I've used to describe it have been sharp: it "routinely gives me chills with just how razor-sharp it is" or it's "prose balanced on a knife's edge." I've talked about a writing style that cuts, that eviscerates, that pierces that's well-honed. It is brutal, and ruthless, and devastating, and so, so sharp.

Foul is Fair gives a fresh, clever, feminist take on Macbeth that still works perfectly on its own, without having read Macbeth. I don't think it's a coincidence that the fact that it's a retelling isn't even mentioned in the synopsis; it's not necessary to know, to be familiar with, but if you are, ooh, boy, does it add layers to the story! I was consistently surprised how well Capin reworked the plot of Macbeth and made it fit a modern revenge story without feeling forced. Everything has different significance, Macbeth's "ambitions" and Lady Macbeth's bloodlust, it all means something else, but it all slots so neatly together it's like it was meant to be. That Elle and her "coven" would ruthlessly pick off the privileged boys who drugged and gang-raped her is prime revenge fantasy territory, but the way the relentless drive of Macbeth lends itself to the goal is serendipitous.

And though it is a bloody, brutal book, at its heart it's the story of a girl who's hurting, and Capin doesn't forget that. Though yes, it may be unrealistic for the coven and Elle to orchestrate murders so effortlessly and in such a short period of time, it lends an immediacy to the story, and to Elle's pain — the bruises from her assault haven't even faded. Her pain and her anger (and her coven's, for her) is a live, raw nerve-ending. While some readers may find it hard to willingly suspend their disbelief (and their morality; gotta suspend that a bit, too) that, not only does Elle manage to accomplish all she does, but that no one recognizes her after so recent an assault, I think most readers will ignore the logistics in favor of cheering Elle on in her quest for vengeance.

I think some readers will be put off by the "on-stage" violence (and the satisfaction Elle takes in seeing her dark will done, and the general confrontationalness of the pain and horror that permeates the book. Still other readers may be put off by a sense that the book is over-written or purple-prosy. It is highly stylized, but for me, that was one of it's draws, and not a detraction, but YMMV. But for those it works for, those who like dark, dark books and relentless, risk-it-all revenge tales, or even just really clever retellings of classics, I don't think you can get much better than Foul is Fair.On par with the ruthlessness and relentlessness and unflinchingness of Sadie, , which is also put out by Wednesday Books, so I think they've got us covered in the 'uber-dark, fed-up teen girls who are ready to burn the world to the ground' market.

And I'm here for it.

As I said, I've been talking about this one for awhile, and I think I'll be talking about it for awhile more to come. This is the type of book to stick with you (I literally had dreams about it), and the type to make for one hell of a group read/discussion book.
7 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Foul Is Fair.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

September 19, 2019 – Started Reading
September 19, 2019 – Shelved
September 19, 2019 –
50.0% "This is mind-blowingly good. Such a good twist on a classic, brutal, laser-focused writing, perfectly honed voice, devastating. So far, SO good!"
February 17, 2020 – Finished Reading
February 19, 2020 – Shelved as: juvenile-ya
February 19, 2020 – Shelved as: literary
February 19, 2020 – Shelved as: retelling
February 19, 2020 – Shelved as: contemporary
February 19, 2020 – Shelved as: arc-or-galley
February 19, 2020 – Shelved as: revenge
February 19, 2020 – Shelved as: review-copy-accepted
February 19, 2020 – Shelved as: 2020-reads
February 19, 2020 – Shelved as: horror-mystery-suspense-thriller

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Sarah (last edited Feb 20, 2020 08:33PM) (new)

Sarah shahzad this in absolutely incredible writing.. realy amazing hey..!! :) I love to write as well, have my own poetry so please check out Corona Virus thank u..!

message 2: by Liz (new) - added it

Liz What classic is this one a twist on?

Jessika Great review!

back to top