ARC Review: Foul is Fair

Macbeth meets Kill Bill in this crazy intense retelling featuring badass witches and murderous women. If you’re looking for a revenge story with a satisfying ending, here is your next read!

I received this book for review through an eARC from NetGalley as well as a physical galley from the publisher.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Elle and her friends Mads, Jenny, 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 Elle’s sweet sixteen, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party. The night the golden boys choose Elle as their next target.

They picked the wrong girl.

Sworn to vengeance, Elle transfers to St. Andrew’s. 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.

Foul is Fair is a bloody, thrilling revenge fantasy for the girls who have had enough. Golden boys beware: something wicked this way comes.

First and foremost, as a trigger/content warning, if you have a history or are sensitive to materials containing abuse/assault/sexual assault – please be careful reading this. The main character is brutally assaulted and the images she remembers can be very detailed and gruesome. It was hard for me to read at some points and triggered feelings/emotions from my own past that I was not looking to experience nor did I want to open up about.

Besides that, if we are looking at this book solely as a Macbeth meets Kill Bill retelling – holy hell this book is great! Our MC is her own mix of witch and Lady Macbeth with her coven not too far behind. Her clever plans to get back at the boys who wronged her leaves you speechless – 1) at how brilliant some of the ideas are and 2) badass she is.

Most (if not all) of Jade’s motivation in this book is revenge and while it was a bit much at the beginning, it soon opened up into a conversation about victims and how they deal with what they’ve been through, which was a good thing to start mentioning. While I’m sure going after those who have wronged you is a great motivator, it was a little repetitive and kind of boring as that was the ONLY motivator. Jade is a fleshed out character, but I didn’t just want to hear “revenge” going through her brain but more of a focus on the other things that may have motivated her.

One thing I loved about this book was the fact that the other characters, such as Mack or Duncan, clearly relate to their Macbeth counterparts and it’s really interesting how the author so easily mixed these roles into a teenage school hierarchy. It was also cool to read the similar plot progression and events translate from the play to this story, with its own twists of course.

One thing I did have an issue with was timeline. One plot point is getting Macbeth with Lady Macbeth, which happens in a day. And the entire book events occur in two weeks, which honestly isn’t a lot of time. The intricate plan Jade/Elle comes up with is not something that a 16 year old girl could come up with in one day nor execute in less than two weeks. I wish the story had taken a bit more time and spanned it a bit farther than what we got. Maybe a month or two instead of two weeks?

Overall, I loved the idea of this book but a little “eh” on the execution. The writing was gorgeous but I wanted more out of the “retelling” and more development out of the characters. I understand how hard it is to make characters you’re trying to recreate also emulate who they are recreated from, but I wasn’t 100% satisfied. I would give this book a star.pngstar.pngstar.png.5//5 stars solely for time line issues, slightly underdeveloped plot, and the gang rape plot line.

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If you like revenge plot lines with strong female leads, check out The Grace Year by Kim Liggett.

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