Let me preface, If you have not already binged the entirety of this show you need to. Immediately. I have never seen a better adaptation of a novel in my entire book nerd life.
It is a masterful and unique take on a young adult fantasy novel adaptation that follows the events of the Shadow and Bone, the first of Leigh Bardugo's original trilogy, and creates a prequel story for the beloved Six of Crows, the first in her duology.
(WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD)
1. Ben Barnes, Ben Barnes, Ben Barnes!
I could possibly go on forever about how amazing and perfect his casting choice was for the Darkling. I have never felt so lucky as a reader to see an image of a character so flawlessly transposed onto an actor. The way he captured the conniving anger and malicious desire that was contrasted with his ability to give the audience and Alina a glimpse into a hurt scared boy (whether you believe his character was faking this or not) took my breath away. Not to mention the scream I gave at the utterance of, “Fine, make me your villain”. Also, just to make sure everyone was aware, his last minute kiss to Alina before going to open the door to Ivan’s knocking in episode 5 was 1000% improvised by Ben Barnes, and it has left me swooning.
I love Mal and Alina and have been partial to the pair since reading the book, and was overjoyed that the show so perfectly played up their relationship. The glimpse into Mal’s journey offered another side of the story not offered in the book that transformed my view as Mal’s character. He quite literally was going to the ends of the earth for Alina, and my heart shattered into a million pieces at his devotion. Not to mention that Archie Renaux stole my heart; every time I don’t think I can find a better casted character in this show I stand corrected.
3. The Crows
I will fully admit that I am late to the Grishaverse hype. However, I still understood the hesitance at how they would incorporate, arguably, some of the most beloved characters into a story that previously had no inclusion of them. After watching the show, this hestance was entirely unfounded. They were quite possibly my favorite part of the entire show through their banter and hinting at the story that had yet to be told. Again, as every character in this show, each Crow was perfectly captured in their casting. I have truly never seen a cast that so entirely UNDERSTOOD THEIR ASSIGNMENT the way they did in Shadow and Bone.
Amita Suman could not have played a better Inej if she tried, the way she depicted a fiercely brave woman who, against all odds, still held true to her beliefs was a stunning thing to watch. Suman created a strong female character without it being complelty about any sort of forced feminism, and it made my heart leap with joy. Freddy Carter expressed the dark and broken cynicism of Kaz in a near flawless manner, and I can’t forget to mention the way he played into the hinting at the romance between him and Inej in the most amazingly subtle manner. As a side note, the scene between The Darkling and Kaz had me screaming. Kit Young, oh goodness, Kit Young. I could not have pictured a better Jesper if I had tried. The snapping wit and humor paired with his inability to step away from a gamble was all wrapped up in the softness of Jesper that hides underneath all of his gun slinging bravado. Don't even get me started on the Mathias and Nina inccoperation becasuse I will never shut up. Danielle Galligan and Calahan Skogman's chemistry captured the beauty and the tragedy of their relationship so stunningly I couldn't stop grinning like an idiot everytime they were together on screeen.
4. The Faithfullnes of The Show
I can admit that I can be a bit of a snob when it comes to book-to-screen adaptations pointing out each and every deviation from the novel. However, Shadow and Bone blew me away with its ability to adhere to the novel while still including the aspects of Mal’s story line, the Darkling’s perspective (even though I am not a fan of the name reveal or very odd amplifier depiction, but I digress), crafting a prequel to The Crow’s story without it being forced, and STILL staying on track with Alina’s story. I swear that there were times in which I felt the script was ripped straight from the pages of the book. How the show transposed such emotion and thoughts into screen from a first person perspective book was beyond insane to me. If you are looking for a faithful book to screen adaptation look no futher.
If Milo was not your favorite part of the show then I am going to sit you down and force you to rewatch and reassess. Milo, or Sankt Milo, as dubbed by the fans brought a ridiculously stupid smile to my face every time he bleated on to the screen. Jesper’s undying attachment to the little goat is one of my favorite things to come out of the entire series, and I demand a reunion in season two. I mean, seriously, he continously brought up how much he missed the goat or would correct someone when they forgot the poor goats name. It was the sweetest thing I could have ever imagined. However, my favorite Jesper and Milo interaction was when it was revealed that Milo was not bait, but an emotional support goat for Jesper. My heart almost fell out of my chest with happiness. I can't mention Milo without remembering the scene where the aggressive nature of Kaz juxtaposed with the unbelievable cuteness of him holding this tiny smelly goat was something I never new I needed. Milo also was one of those characters that continually kept reappearing throughout the season for fan service in little mentions with each time being more hilarious and amazing then the next. In the end Milo was actully poor Mal's saving grace proving the true power of the little goat. In conclusion, all hail Sankt Milo. The real star of the show.