Shadow and Bone – Series Review

I would like that thank Netflix for allowing me to watch and review this series. 

Creator: Leigh Bardugo’s

Cast: Jessie Mei Li, Ben Barnes, Archie Renaux

Platform: Netflix

Episode Count: 8

Release Date: April 23rd

The story: Shadow and Bone finds us in a war-torn world where lowly soldier and orphan Alina Starkov has just unleashed an extraordinary power that could be the key to setting her country free. With the monstrous threat of the Shadow Fold looming, Alina is torn from everything she knows to train as part of an elite army of magical soldiers known as Grisha. But as she struggles to hone her power, she finds that allies and enemies can be one and the same and that nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. There are dangerous forces at play, including a crew of charismatic criminals, and it will take more than magic to survive.

I have to be honest. Netflix is dominating the competition when it comes to pleasing viewers with its multiple attempts at the Fantasy genre namely The Witcher, Cursed, The Dragon Prince, and what I believe to be their latest goldmine Shadow and Bone. 

There seems to be a trend of young adult fantasy book adaptations on the horizon including His Dark Materials and Fate: The Winx Saga that has been sweeping the streaming scene. Shadow and Bone is Netflix’s latest endeavor on the subject which lead me to want more from this series. Shadow and Bone has a lot of heart and the story is spellbinding, with an episode count of eight the time flies by in this grand adventure. The pacing can be a bit rough around the edges but overall will keep you glued to your seat.

This series has a mixture of a period piece and a fantasy world mixed into one. Not so much a modern fantasy like His Dark Materials or Harry Potter but as a hybrid of multiple young adult fantasies conjured into one. The world-building is concrete. What makes this society interesting is the shadow fold which has divided the country. through out the season, you see how some of the world leaders will use it to their advantage. It sets up a very interesting story that I think the audience will appreciate.

The characters are the strongest part of this season. Our heroine of the series is played by Jessie Mei Li (Alina) who is accompanied by her best friend played by Archie Renau (Malyen). Their characters work well with each other because of their upbringings. The relationship they have is sincere and faithful which carries the story forward in a beautiful way. The rest of the cast is full of riveting characters and side stories. 

The chemistry feels authentic which is always a plus. And the pacing does have a few hiccups here and there but overall the series pulls you in from episode one. The run times push around the hour mark but the fact that they were able to tell this story in 8 episodes was fantastic. It wasn’t overbearing and the show did not take long to throw the audience into the weeds of this universe. There is a lot of back and forth between different countries and the show does a great job of using low third titles to inform the audience what location of Ravka the characters are in.

Shadow and Bone is an extraordinary series that I have fallen head over heels for. It prides itself on its well-blended story and characters. Netflix is sitting on a gold mine and I can’t wait to see where the story takes us. This series is set to debut on April 23rd via Netflix.

My Score: A-

Christian is a film critic and founder of the Film Optix Podcast. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association. You can find him on Twitter @Musiccitynerd

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