Shadow & Bone review


Shadow and Bone is a fantasy show based off of the Grishaverse books by Leigh Bardugo. The show takes place in the cities of Ravka and Ketterdam, which are inspired by Tsarist Russia. It takes the plot and characters of Shadow and Bone and the characters of Six of Crows and skillfully combines them into an entertaining story.

Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li) and her best friend Mal (Archie Renaux) grew up as orphans and joined Ravka’s first army together. Alina is a regular mapmaker until she enters the “shadow fold,” (a literal pit of darkness with human-eating monsters) where it’s revealed that she has a special power. Those with power are called Grisha, and they are tested as children to determine if they have the ability to manipulate elements, but Alina hid from testing in order to stay with Mal. Alina is suddenly thrown into the world of Grisha where lies, surprises and the fate of the war resting on her shoulders awaits her.

Across the sea in Ketterdam are the “Crows,” Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter), Inej Ghafa (Amita Suman) and Jesper Fahey (Kit Young) who plan a heist involving Alina for a high reward. Alina’s story intertwines with the Crows, and it was really interesting to switch between those perspectives.

The casting choices were immaculate. Not only did they look the part, but their mannerisms and personalities outside of the show seemed to perfectly correlate with their characters. One of my favorite casting choices was Kit Young as Jesper Fahey because he matched Jesper’s energy, enthusiasm and humor perfectly. Ben Barnes, who played General Kirigan (the Darkling) also did a spectacular job at playing the part of a complicated, morally grey character.

The scenery, soundtrack and special effects were also professionally done. I was worried that the special effects would be cringe-worthy because it’s usually difficult to make “magic” look real, but I think they did a great job of making it look believable.

TikTok has also been raving about Milo, a goat who carried the first half of the show and needed more screen time. Some people also noticed similarities between Milo and Wylan, a character in the books who is missing in the first season of the show. Hopefully next season we get Wylan and Nikolai casted.

A major difference between the book and the show adaptation was that they made Mal likeable. One of the problems I had with him in the books was that he limited Alina’s full potential, but in the show he seems to accept her for who she is. I tried my best to feel disgusted whenever he came on the screen, but he actually seemed to be truly in love with Alina.

I recommend this show to everyone, but I’d definitely recommend reading the books first otherwise it will seem like watching a show in a foreign language. It kept me on my toes even after reading the books with a mix of humorous, emotional and thrilling moments. Fortunately the show is getting renewed and there will be a second season, so go watch the first season now!