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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Riverside chapter.

The tv-show adaptation of the popular book series written by Leigh Bardugo, Shadow and Bone, came out on April 23, 2021. By now, a lot of people have already binge-watched the whole series, either because of the action-packed trailers or having read the books beforehand. The most exciting part though is the almost perfect casting. Let’s talk about the Shadow and Bone Cast. 

Not only is the main character of Alina Starkov mixed-race of Ravkan and Shu in the show, but she’s also an orphan as well, which are important characteristics that highlight her struggle to fit in without someone trying to change one aspect or another of hers. Additionally, Jessie Mei Li, a neurodivergent gender-neutral Asain actor, portrays these struggles outstandingly as they have experienced these issues in real life. Jessie explores the journey of finding Alina’s identity, place in the world, and power, within a society that denied her any true connection to herself for so long. 

Next, the Darkling, portrayed by English actor Ben Barnes. Ben Barnes was fan-casted for years as General Kirigan and brought those fan casts to his meeting with the casting director. He demonstrates why he was the best choice by displaying the Darkling’s reach for power intertwined with the manipulative behavior that he relies on to lure Alina. Barnes demonstrates his drive for his quest to conquer and inability to change throughout the show as well as his growing attachment to Alina. 

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Malyen Oretsev is the next character who is portrayed by English actor Archie Renaux. Mal embraces their “more than a friend” relationship openly in the show as we see him keeping his promise to “always find her,” multiple times, almost dying to get her back. He immediately accepts her powers and doesn’t have a problem with her slight relationship with the Darkling, opposite to book Mal. Archie does an excellent job of portraying the extent to which Mal will go to get Alina back, no matter the consequences.

My favorite characters, the Crows, are Jesper Fahey, Inej Ghafa, and Kaz Brekker, originally from the duology “Six of Crows.” Actor Kit Young depicts the charming, witty, and hilariously endearing character of Jesper. In fact, the cast has said multiple times that Kit is most like his character. Inej Ghafa is portrayed by the one and only Amita Suman, who highlights the “Wraith’s” total badassery, faith, and relationship with Kaz with the best eye contact chemistry I have ever seen. Finally, Kaz Brekker is portrayed by Freddy Carter who brings the perfect combination of a mastermind criminal, ruthless leader and caring (to a subconscious extent) partner that Kaz is. 

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Even though the cast has some discrepancies in casting that have recently been addressed, I completely recommend watching this series if you haven’t already, if not for the diverse amazing cast, then for the action-packed slight romance that it is. Additionally, the books are great for learning more about the characters’ backgrounds and future plots. Find your inner Grisha and see if you agree with what I call the Almost Perfect Cast.

Olivia Garcia

UC Riverside '24

creative writing major - lover of books, Netflix, and being your truest self
Deedee Plata

UC Riverside '22

20 year old creative writing major with a love for skincare, representation, and art. When not laying down and watching cartoons, I can be found working on my novel or browsing through baby name forums.