I nearly called this post We need to talk about Foul is Fair, but I didn’t because the “we need to talk about” headline has been done to absolute death. However, cliches aside: we need to talk about Foul is Fair.
There have been myriad novels about rape culture in American society, about how complacent, entitled alpha males are feted and worshipped and get away with anything while the victim shoulders the blame. From Jessica Knoll’s Luckiest Girl Alive to the uplifting The Nowhere Girls. But this book is different. It’s savage and relentless, just as these men often are. It sets aside the feelings of shame, trauma, self-blame and fear that rape survivors often experience and focuses on one emotion alone: rage.
It focuses on one emotion alone: rage
Like many girls before her, Jade Khanjara is raped at a party by a group of popular boys. This is not the first time they’ve done something like this, they have every intention of doing it again, and nobody is about to stop them. This time, however they’ve picked on the wrong person.
Instead of running to the police or going through therapy, Jade decides to kill the boys and everyone who helped them. She paints her nails, cuts her hair and, with the aid of her three loyal and lethal girlfriends, plots to bring them down.
The title is drawn from Macbeth, and what follows is a feminist revision of Shakespeare’s tragedy, with Jade as Lady Macbeth and her three best friends as the coven of witches who mess with Macbeth’s mind and manipulate him into murdering his closest friends. Each killing is just as grisly as the Shakespeare original, but will Jade, like Lady Macbeth before her, lose her mind with the horror of what she’s done?
This time they’ve picked on the wrong person
Foul is Fair is hypnotically written, slick, elegant and stylised. It’s not for everyone – if you’re looking for nuance, comic relief and realistic murder scenarios this ain’t the place. (The bit where she tells her parents that she’s planning to kill her attackers and they pretty much say “cool, what do you need from us?” was especially unlikely.) But it also speaks to the rage inside us all – the anger we feel when it happens to us or a loved one, or even hearing about stories like the Chanel Miller case. What Jade does is morally dubious to say the least, but thrilling. The concept gets you thinking, and talking and asking difficult questions long after you’ve turned the last page.
Fair is Foul by Hannah Capin is out now. Check it out and let me know what you think!
Lucky me, I received a complimentary early reading copy from the publisher, Penguin.