Review of Netflix's "Shadow and Bone"

On April 23, 2021, the TV series “Shadow and Bone” was released on Netflix and I know I wasn’t the only Grishaverse fan excited for it. As usual with Netflix originals, it is 8 episodes for the first season ranging between 45 minutes to an hour. It’s your choice to either binge watch or space it out, but I definitely tried to savor its release for a few days. The show is based on the Shadow and Bone trilogy and Six of Crows duology written by Leigh Bardugo.

Taking place in the fantastical land of Ravka, mapmaker Alina Starkov tries to survive the war with her best friend, Mal. However, a shocking discovery about the power she holds could change the fate of their country’s position for the better. On the other side of the ocean, Kaz Brekker and his team of criminals are tasked with an impossible job. Watch as two worlds collide in a fight centered around greed, shadows, and determination.

“Shadow and Bone” was filmed mostly in Europe, with scenes taking place in streets and palaces of Hungary. Bardugo emphasized that Russian architecture and other war-related elements inspired the creation of the hierarchy structure in her story. The cast was introduced in late 2019 with Jessie Mei Li as Alina Starkov, Archie Renaux as Malyen Oretsev, Ben Barnes as General Kirigan, Freddy Carter as Kaz Brekker, and Amita Suman as Inej Ghafa to name a few. As it was a book series, many readers were already hype for the creation of a show that involved both sides of Bardugo’s writings. As a bookseller at Barnes and Noble, I have noticed that the popularity of its release has generated more interest in the books as well.

Now, Bardugo was a producer for the show so she had some guidance in how the script and plot should play out, and rightfully so. In my personal opinion, I believe the dialogue was natural and related to the original dialogue in the books quite well. There were some direct quotes that I recognized and appreciated as favorites in the Grishaverse community. I found myself laughing as comedic material was introduced by certain lovable characters; there are definitely new quotable lines to adore. 

I was unaware of almost all of the cast, but I was glad to see fresh faces with talent. They have previous acting experience, but this show might make them more popular. I think they were casted well based on skill and appearance. While I was a little concerned at the start of the season with how well the book lines would flow with the actor’s voices, I was pleasantly reassured up to the end. Each actor fit their character perfectly in terms of how they decided to play the role. Character critiques from the book were reevaluated for the show’s portrayal and it enhanced my decision to fall in love with them all over again, whether they were a savior or villain.

turned on LED movie projector Photo by Alex Litvin from Unsplash

The only real problem I had was the depiction of Kaz’s crew and their planning tactics, but I accepted that it fit with the rest of the plot by the end. Overall, season one was a glittering and promising beginning to a show that I hope gets renewed for more. “Shadow and Bone” kept my attention, made me smile with delight, and was an exciting portal of beloved books. Even with only 8 episodes, it wrapped up nicely, leaving me wanting more. I highly recommend this show whether you have read the books or not, so click on that play button and settle in for some magic.