“Shadow and Bone” Review

A review of the new Netflix original, “Shadow and Bone.”


Nearly nine years after the first book in the “Shadow and Bone” trilogy was released, a Netflix original was created out of the intense story and array of lovable characters written by Leigh Bardugo. With a plot adapted to include characters from both the “Six of Crows” and “Shadow and Bone” book series, I have found that the show “Shadow and Bone” is one that I would absolutely recommend.

The story begins with Alina (Jessie Mei Li) from “Shadow and Bone”, a supposedly normal girl who works as a mapmaker for the First Army, entering the Fold, an expanse of darkness that is overrun by deadly monsters known as volcra, alongside her childhood friend, Mal (Archie Renaux). When attacked during her passage, she defends herself using abilities that she was unaware that she possessed. Waking after the fact, she is met with the reality that she is the Sun Summoner, a Grisha, or person with the ability to summon and control the elements, who has been long awaited for as she is meant to use her powers to destroy the Fold. From there, she meets up with the Darkling (Ben Barnes), a powerful Grisha who wishes to have her protected from Grisha hunters known as Druskelle and have her trained at the Little Palace.

Meanwhile, “Six of Crows” characters, Kaz (Freddy Carter), Inej (Amita Suman) and Jesper (Kit Young), are given a job to obtain the Sun Summoner from the other side of the Fold and bring her to Ketterdam for payment. Nina (Danielle Galligan) and Matthias (Calahan Skogman), two of the other main characters of the series, are introduced later in the show as an imprisoned Grisha on her way to receive trial and a Druskelle on guard of the captives.

While the duology, “Six of Crows,” and trilogy, “Shadow and Bone,” were originally written as taking place hundreds of years apart from one another, they are joined in the Netflix series in an attempt to please readers from both sides. They managed to include most of the fans’ favorite characters, but failed to incorporate Wylan from “Six of Crows,” much to the disappointment of readers.

The show, since it is forced to not only include more characters but fit a large amount of content into an eight episode season, has an altered plot from the books, but is enjoyable to watch nonetheless. The effects are well developed, the story is intriguing, and the characters are entertaining to follow along with.

Unfortunately, there are two complaints that I have regarding the show. First of which is the rushed plot that fails to fully develop the storyline and character relationships in a satisfactory manner. As someone who read and loved the books, I was disappointed by some of the scenes that helped to develop the plot that were cut from the show. Particularly, the development of the relationship between Matthias and Nina felt rushed and poorly executed as their storyline was covered in an extremely condensed period of time.

Second, I found that some of the dialogue and actions of the characters did not fit with their written personalities. There were particular scenes that I found myself thinking that the characters were not acting themselves and should have been done differently to better match the books. Kaz was the character who least matched his book persona as he was seen in the show to be weak in a fight and his plan to enter the Little Palace felt unstable and haphazardly thrown together. Dissimilarly, he was written in the books to be untouchable in combat and produce ingenious plans.

Of course, both of these complaints are mostly due to my having read both of the book series, so watchers with no prior knowledge of the characters or plot will likely not notice these issues to the same extent. Even though you may experience my same frustration with the differences between the show and the books, I would absolutely recommend that you read both book series and binge the show right after.