Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin

Foul is Fair is a gripping teenage revenge thriller based on Macbeth set in an elite LA world. Jade Khanjara and her three best friends Mads, Summer, and Jenny are powerful and dazzling, rich and always there for each other. When Jade’s drink is spiked at a party and she is attacked by a group of boys from a different school, the four know that these boys will face no consequences unless they take matters into their own hands, and they scheme a plot to bring them down. Jade has to disguise herself, go into their school, and rip them apart from within, using their muddled conscience Mack to enact the violence.

This is a vicious and dark book, combining the danger of teenage horror and thriller books with the revenge violence of Kill Bill, and taking the control back from fate into the hands of teenage girls who know how to do damage. Jade and her best friends are the heart of the book, ruthless and clever, though the story is about what they do rather than focusing on who they are. The narrative is clearly Macbeth in many ways, but also Capin takes it in different directions, playing around with Jade’s role in particular, and there’s a lot of potential for people who study and love Macbeth to look at how Foul is Fair plays with the original. On the other hand, you don’t necessarily need to know Shakespeare’s play to get into the novel, which has been compared to a range of TV series based variously around revenge, violence, assault, and teenagers.

The writing style is unusual, giving Jade a specific voice and combining elements from different genres, and the use of character feels quite cinematic, where certain shorthands or details are shown to build character rather than more in-depth depictions. The pace of the narrative and events match the sense of time in the play, and bring a sense of unreality which suits the novel as a revenge fantasy. Foul is Fair could easily be adapted into a TV series or film (TV series would allow the space to give Jade’s friends space for their characters too, and it would be good to see more of Mads, Summer, and Jenny and their privileged yet complex lives).

Foul is Fair is gleefully dark and vicious as it depicts teenage girls having the power to enact bloody revenge. Take heed of content warnings and be aware that some people are going to find the violence too much or too unrealistic, but this is a book worth picking up if you’re interested in Macbeth meets Heathers with a scheming, diverse quartet enacting vengeance.