TV Review: Shadow and Bone

Author Leigh Bardugo’s popular book series – and now the highly anticipated TV show – has finally arrived as Shadow and Bone hit our Netflix screens on April 23. Platform writer Scarlett Acres and Editor-in-Chief Faith Pring give us their thoughts on the series.

Scarlett Acres

The series takes place in the Grishaverse, which currently consists of seven books in three different parts – series one of the show however focuses on Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows.

The show follows Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li) an orphaned soldier and map maker who follows her childhood best friend on a dangerous mission to enter the deadly “Shadow Fold” which splits the kingdom in two for supplies.

When all goes wrong and Mal (Archie Renaux) gets attacked by the Volcra – Alina finds out she isn’t just a map maker but rather a Sun Summoner which was believed to be a myth.

Alina is quickly swept away in hopes to destroy the fold by the mysterious General Kirigan ‘The Darkling’ (Ben Barnes who is best known for playing Prince Caspian in The Chronicles of Narnia) but everything or everyone is not as they seem.

Whereas in Ketterdam – ‘The Dregs’ comprising of Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter), Ines Ghafa (Amita Suman) and Jesper Fahey (Kit Young) are tasked with passing through the fold and finding the famous Sun Summoner for a huge sum of one million Kruger.

It’s bound to be a huge adventure.

Fans of the books were worried about how the timeline would play out as the show decided to switch up timelines to include the Six of crows novel intertwined with the first book in the series, but luckily I think this paid off as nothing felt out of place.

But for those who haven’t read the books, you could easily get lost with everything you need to know in this complex world.

The show could have done with going more into the Grisha basics and explain more about the world for this reason and characters seem to have a lot less time than they do in the books – but this could be easily fixed in future series.

As a reader of the book series – it’s incredible to see the world come to life in a way that is definitely not disappointing as the cinematography brings the Grishaverse to a whole new light.

The characters are portrayed incredibly, and the acting is phenomenal that you’ll feel totally grasped the whole time, and all of a sudden you’ve binged the whole show in one sitting!

An incredible thing about the series is that it also touches on racism, brings in LGBTQ+ representation and has strong women at the forefront of the story.

All things that make the show that much more magical.

There have been reports that the show has already been renewed but Netflix hasn’t confirmed as of yet.

But I for one can’t wait to see what is in store for the future of Shadow and Bone and I definitely recommend to all.

Faith Pring

The story follows Alina Starkov (played by Jessie Mai Li), an orphaned cartographer whose job it is to map as much of the fold as possible. The fold is the dark area, dividing East and West Ravka, and is almost impossible to cross given it is inhabited by a dangerous species called Volkra. Alina, along with best friend Mal, are tasked with being on board a ship as it attempts to cross the fold, only for Alina to discover she is what is known as a ‘sun summoner’ – someone who has the ability to summon light at will.

The story also follows Kaz, Inej and Jesper, from the Six of Crows series, as they attempt to make their fortune by kidnapping Alina.

As with any fantasy series, world-building is one of the most important elements to the story, and Bardugo’s creation results in an effective and compelling universe that I was convinced by and wanted to live in.

The special effects – particularly those demonstrating the darkling’s power – were convincingly done and demonstrated just how much thought and money Netflix had inputted into the show.

Whilst on some occasions, Jessie’s acting can leave a little to be desired, the surrounding castmates more than makeup for it.

Ben Barnes – who plays the Darkling – is one of the most compelling villains I have ever watched on screen. His ability to use facial expressions to tell a story of its own makes his character even more interesting, with his subtle transition between surprised, sad, angry, and then amused in less than two seconds being virtually unparalleled.

Leigh Bardugo has also praised the show for tackling inclusion and diversity better than she did. When the show was in development, she revealed she asked the casting team to do a better job than she did, resulting in an ethnically diverse cast, properly representing the different sides of a universal story.

While the series itself is relatively short, at only eight episodes, it holds the door wide open for a second series, exploring the second novel in the book series, much to fans’ anticipation.

Shadow and Bone is available to stream on Netflix now.

Feature image: IGN

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