“Post-#MeToo, novels aimed at teenage girls frequently revolve around topics of consent, slut-shaming and revenge porn. The haste to be timely can mean half-cooked ingredients, something Hannah Capin’s Foul Is Fair could never be accused of: rather Capin turns the heat up high to roast setting…wicked fun!”


“Fair is foul and foul is fair,” a quote from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, inspires the title of Hannah Capin’s latest novel which is a modern and unapologetically twisted re-telling of Shakespeare’s tragic, dark, and bloody play. Packed full of clever nods to Shakespeare’s original and quotes pulled directly from the text and dropped into the new narrative, Capin’s novel is a perfectly contemporary new take on the story which still successfully maintains the bare-boned structure, wickedness and gore of Shakespeare’s Scottish play.

In Hannah Capin’s Foul is Fair, Lady Macbeth is depicted by Jade, an LA teenager who attends a party with her three best friends (also known as her coven) for her 16th birthday, has her drink spiked and is sexually assaulted. “I decide how it ends. Every night except one.”

Instead of reporting the attack, Jade decides to take things into her own hands, snatch back the power that’s been taken from her, and take revenge on the boys. Jade is the perfect example of a woman who does not want to be a ‘survivor’ or a ‘victim’ of sexual assault, who boldly takes ownership over her body and her trauma, and says “those boys didn’t turn me into anything.” All Jade really wants is to regain her strength and power.

A re-telling of Macbeth for the #MeToo and #TimesUp era, Hannah Capin’s Foul is Fair is a book dedicated, “To all who survive, every day, in spite of everything: those who forgive and those who fight, those who seek justice and those who seek revenge, those who have stood up with the whole work watching and those whose stories will never be told. You are strength and you are power.” The narrative which in it’s dark and twisted way condones vigilante justice and revenge, shines a much-needed spotlight on rape culture, gender-based violence and slut-shaming in the book’s fierce feminist-battle cry of vengeance.

Capin’s Foul is Fair also tackles several other issues including abusive relationships, bullying and suicide. What’s more, through Jade’s friend Mads, Capin’s novel examines transphobia and transphobic bullying. Although Mads’ gender identity is never explicitly cited in the book, references to Mads’ “deadname”, flashbacks to transphobic behaviour in the school playground and quotes such as; “The first day Mads’s father let her be her real self at school,” drop hints to the reader that Mads is transgender. While at the same time, the subtly of these hints, and the agency Mads maintains throughout the novel (despite the bullying), show how easily a true friend can accept their best friend’s gender identity and how powerful this acceptance can be; “Mads, my Mads, who once upon a time when we were eight and taping knockout-pink Barbie Band-Aids over skinned knees, looked at me and told me the name she wasn’t and said I’m Madalena, and I said Good.”

Hannah Capin’s Foul is Fair is a truly intersectional feminist tale for a modern age. An unforgettable, gripping, thrilling and blood-thirsty novel which leaves you thinking about it long after you finish reading it. Fast-paced and dripping in blood, there’s never a dull moment in this brilliant and powerful new adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which would definitely make an amazing film or even TV series.

Warning, while this book does not depict the full rape scene, flashbacks are featured throughout, therefore for anyone who may be triggered by a close examination of sexual trauma, this book will not be a safe read. What’s more, any readers who are uncomfortable with substance abuse, physical violence, gore, murder, suicide, transphobia or bullying may find this book a difficult read.


Reviewed by:

Catherine Muxworthy, Booksbirdblog

Added 6th August 2020

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Catherine Muxworthy