TV Series | Season One
CinemaScore Rating: N/A
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 87% Certified Fresh (Critics) | 93% Fresh (Audience)
Writers: Vanya Asher, Daegan Fryklind, Eric Heisserer
Stars: Freddy Carter, Jessie Mei Li, Archie Renaux, Ben Barnes
IMDb summary: Dark forces conspire against orphan mapmaker Alina Starkov when she unleashes an extraordinary power that could change the fate of her war-torn world.
PLEASE BE AWARE BEFORE YOU READ ON; WE ARE NOT SPOILER-FREE. THANK YOU.
SHADOW AND BONE REVIEW
Originally reviewed by Julie for Keithlovesmovies.
Shadow and Bone is a fantastical and engaging feat of storytelling with amazing world-building and characters to love, admire and even despise. It’s time for the Harry Potter fans to make way for the imaginative and mesmerizing world of the Shadow Fold.
Shadow and Bone is the Netflix title adapted from a popular YA book series written by Leigh Bardugo. The first season of Shadow and Bone (assuming they follow the books, which is a trilogy) is based on the first book of the same name, which makes up the ‘Grisha Trilogy’. The show introduces the protagonist of the series, Alina Starkov and her closest friend, Mal. They have been friends since they were small children living in the same orphanage. As grownups, they form part of the Ravkan army; Mal is a soldier and Alina is a mapmaker. We don’t know why Alina is a mapmaker, and we don’t actually see her ever making a map, mostly because her life gets swept up in the darkness of ‘The Fold’ shortly after.
The Fold is a magical creation, much like a dark abyss that separates the world. It was formed by “The Dark Heretic”, mentioned in the tales told throughout Ravka. To pass through The Fold is a risky undertaking and many who try never return. This is a major plot piece in the show, and the primary characters, including Alina, Mal and General Kirigan, are inextricably linked to it. The focus of Shadow and Bone is the character progression of Alina Starkov, and she is at the core of the story. And without giving too much away, it is her fate that eventually impacts everyone in Ravka.
One of the standout performances in the show is that of lead Alina (Jessie Mei Li), a relatively unknown actress. In fact, the entire cast seems extremely fresh-faced, apart from Ben Barnes, who is the veteran actor of the cast. Ben Barnes as General Kirigan is also an interesting character, and Barnes brings him to life with quiet, threatening composure.
While there may be shades of black and white in terms of who is who in the show, it’s the characters that stand with one foot in and one foot out that are the most interesting. I’ve never been one for “cookie-cutter” protagonists that are a dime a dozen in fiction. It’s the characters that you can’t read that keep you watching and wondering. Shadow and Bone have multiple characters like this, including Kaz, Inej and Jesper, who have smaller parts but are engaging and likeable enough to invest time in. In fact, Jesper is one of my favourite characters simply because he’s so flamboyant and obviously not the hero type but at the same time is the hero type.
The world-building of Shadow and Bone is absolutely breathtaking. Everything from the fantastic set pieces to the enthralling use of CGI is top-notch. It’s close to rivalling the world-building of Game of Thrones, and I don’t say that lightly. It’s one of the best parts of this show and something we’ll be looking forward to seeing more of should the series continue. At this point, a second season has not yet been confirmed, but we’d be amazed if it doesn’t get the green light from Netflix to continue once the world is consumed in Shadow and Bone.
Shadow and Bone will be the next version of Harry Potter, except, dare I say it, even better. I’m sorry, Harry Potter fans, but it’s time to hang up those cloaks and wands and make way for something unique, bold and entertaining. Shadow and Bone is about to be unleashed on the world, and I am very sure it’s going to be welcomed with open arms. We hope you have enjoyed our Shadow and Bone Review. We’ll see you in The Fold.
Here’s the final trailer for Shadow and Bone on YouTube:
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Freelance entertainment writer and reviewer. Visit my blog on https://thebrokenquill.com.