By Maler Suresh and Joelle Silvestri
Shadow and Bone, an on screen adaptation of the Leigh Bardugo novel of the same title, released on Netflix in April 2021. The show was highly anticipated by the books’ large fanbase and reached popularity very quickly. This show stands out with its diverse casting and ambitious world-building. Every character goes through excellent character development throughout the show, and its storyline keeps you on your toes.
Shadow and Bone is a fantasy show that takes place in Ravka, a war-torn country that has been cleaved in two by “the Fold,” a wall of shadows created by an enigmatic black heretic many years prior. The Fold is swarming with volcra (murderous, winged creatures) and nearly impossible to cross. The world is inhabited by ordinary civilians and their more powerful counterparts, the Grisha, who have an assortment of powers, from controlling the wind to stopping people’s hearts. Within this world lives Alina Starkov, a young cartographer. She discovers that she is a Grisha (she has special powers) and can summon sunlight, allowing her to defeat “the Fold.” Unfortunately, her ability makes her very valuable, and this draws the attention of the Grisha leader General Kirigan as well as three criminals on the other side of the Fold. Now that Alina is aware of her abilities, she must fight those trying to take advantage of her and take down the Fold once and for all.
The cast starred many talented fresh faces such as Jessie Mei Li, who played the lead as Alina Starkov, Danielle Galligan, who plays Nina Zenik, Calahan Skogman as Matthias Helvar, and Amita Suman as Inej Ghafa, Freddy Carter as Kaz Brekker, and Kit Young as Jesper Fahey. The show also featured well-known veteran actors such as Ben Barnes as the Black Heretic and Zoe Wanamaker (Harry Potter’s Quidditch instructor) as Bhagra. The show is very well-cast and although some of these actors do not have a lot of experience they still give a great performance. Especially considering that much of the acting in the show is done on green screen, and much of what the actors are reacting to has to be filled in by CGI. The show does a fantastic job of conveying the world that Bardugo has created in her series. With the use of CGI and expert fight choreography, they can make the magical fighting scenes seem very realistic.
The show weaves multiple storylines together from several different books by Leigh Bardugo. Most notable for Bardugo’s fans was the choice to combine her Grishaverse novels with her Six of Crows duology. It was an ambitious choice, weaving together two storylines that technically happen at completely separate times chronologically in the books. Still, the choice kept fans watching the show as many preferred the Six of Crows storyline over Alina’s. Most importantly, the show is easy to follow whether or not you have read the books.
This show is definitely worth watching. It will pull you in and keep you on the edge of your seat. So watch Shadow and Bone and follow Alina Starkov’s adventures in Ravka.