You know that feeling when one of your favorite book series gets turned into a movie/tv series?
It’s time for a Shadow and Bone show review. If you haven’t watched this amazing adaptation yet, go and do it, please!
Shadow and Bone is a Netflix tv series adapted from Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone trilogy and the Six of Crows duology. Both series are set in the same universe and are a YA fantasy with magic and some clever teens. I recommend both series, if you’re a fan of friends to lovers, complex villains, morally gray characters, and scheming teens, check them out.
If you have watched the show and Milo the goat is living rent-free in your head, then come on over and chill with me for a while.
First off, if you loved the show and want to know what’s next in Alina’s arc, check out my youtube series where I spoil all the Shadow and Bone novels.
If you want to know the general gist of Alina’s arc, check out my review of the novels:
I loved this show. I loved the way the writers kept the heart of the novels when writing the series. I felt like they put great care into getting the characters right. Even the actors brought their all to their characters.
And when I say brought it all…
I mean I now have a crush on Ben Barnes.
And Kit Young
And Jessi Mei Li
I could tell they all cared deeply about their characters and I’m grateful. Side notes: I loved that so many new faces were casted in this show.
Overall, the show does a fantastic job at blending the various novels and characters. I had my doubts, but I am ecstatic that it turned out so well. These blended storylines have blessed book fans with wild scenes such as the crows kidnapping Alina, Kaz facing off with the Darkling, Inej stabbing the Darkling, and the crows adopting Mal and Alina into their gang. In my opinion, it’s quality fanfiction!
I also loved the way the show navigated the LGBTQIA+ characters. In the Netflix series, the characters are simply allowed to love who they love without a coming-out storyline or homophobia present. We even get to see Jesper flirting with the stable boy and more! I found that very refreshing.
In season 1 Alina learns she’s the sun summoner is invited to the Little Palace and flirts with the villian. Meanwhile the dregs receive a tip for 1 million Kruge for the delivery of Alina Starkov. And in a ship floating in the cold sea are Matthias and Nina spitting insults at each other until their ship sinks.
I thought this was a great way to blend their stories because it’s exactly what the crows would do. I’m excited to see how they’ll navigate the two big storylines.
In conclusion, if you’re a fan of the Grishaverse, you’ll love this show.
This show has some great aspects that I hadn’t expected to enjoy as much as I did.
I’m talking about Mal Oretsev.
Mal is Alina’s best friend and her true love. Throughout the series, Mal is bland. He’s protective of Alina, but he’s also very accepting that he has no place by her side because she must fulfill her destiny as the sun summoner. Even though he’s in love with her.
My dude, don’t be so noble tell your immortal girlfriend you’re going to make it work.
The two break up and makeup throughout the series, and it’s exhausting.
Mal in the Netflix show is more well-rounded. In the first novel, Alina sees Mal as a womanizer who looks at any other woman besides her. When Alina moves to the Little Palace, she believes Mal has abandoned her because he doesn’t answer any of her letters.
In the show, we see what’s happening with Mal. He’s trying his hardest to reunite with Alina, speaking to his captains that they need to rescue Alina, volunteering on a dangerous mission to hunt the Stag, fighting generals, and writing letters to Alina!
I loved this version of Mal, and I’m curious to see how the show will handle the rest of his arcs.
Speaking of Mal and Alina, the two get plenty of time together, but unlike the first novel in the series, Mal and Alina do not confess their feelings for each other. In the show, Mal confesses that he finally sees Alina for who she is and they hug it out. Very interesting choice. If the writers are going for a slow burn between the two I am now a fan.
Show Alina doesn’t come off as the love struck, I’d do anything for Mal, cartographer she was in the first novel. I tolerated Alina through out the Shadow and Bone series but their were times when she frustrated me.
Show Alina is dedicated to Mal but in that sense that he’s been her best friend since childhood and she’s repressing her romantic feelings for him. I like this take better than love sick Alina who yearns for Mal in the Little Palace. Going forward I think if they keep Mal and Alina platonic it will provide great contrast with her relationship to the Darkling and Nikolai.
Additionally, I liked that in the show Alina masters her powers faster than in the book.
In the novel, Alina struggles with summoning light until the Darkling explains his plan to give her an amplifier. Yeah, he was manipulating her with that promise but the fact that the show doesn’t include it makes it so Alina comes into her powers on her own. Plus, we get another scene in the show in which Alina is able to split her light without the aid of the mirror gloves the Darkling gives her in the novel.
I think these instances are setting up Alina to become just or even more powerful than the Darkling.
Speaking of our favorite baddie.
The Darkling is also the same deliciously evil and manipulative toxic man we know and love from the novels, but Ben Barnes’s portrayal of the Darkling is low-key soft. There are plenty of Darklina (Darkling x Alina) scenes to swoon over, but what struck me the most while watching are all the times the Darkling becomes emotional. Lots of scenes where his eyes water while speaking to Alina.
It’s really hard to hate this man.
Now onto the Crows.
I first stepped into the Grishaverse with the Six of Crows duology, so all the crows hold a special place in my heart. But Jesper has cemented himself as my fave after this show. In all honesty, Jesper stole the show. Not only was he a great comic relief but a loyal friend, and the baddest sharpshooter in the game.
There’s one scene in which Jesper begs Kaz to hire a demolition expert, and Kaz comments that Jesper wants one for every job. A secret hint and nudge to Wylan Van Eck, also known as Jesper’s other half.
The show also hints at Kaz’s backstory, bringing on Pekka Rollins to threaten Kaz out of the 1 million Kruge deal for Alina. In this scene, we can see Kaz’s unfiltered hatred for Pekka and the blatant cluelessness Pekka regards Kaz with. Oh, it’s sweet to watch, knowing what happens to Pekka later.
Overall, Kaz is the same stoic and brooding teenager he is in the novels. But there are various times in the show we witness the cracks in his demeanor, namely whenever Inej is injured. Book Kaz is ruthless, and he loves to show this side of himself to everyone. Even Inej.
However, Kaz is also very sweet when he wants to be. As much as Kaz likes to tell himself he isn’t the same boy who was fooled by Pekka, it’s a lie. Kaz has buried that part of himself and transformed himself into the bastard of the barrel, but it’s still there. I loved that the show showed that side of him. I do wonder if Kaz will become even more ruthless in future seasons as he is a bit softer in the show (please renew it for season 2 Netflix).
Inej was also great. I love that she has the same easy-going relationship with Jesper, and her interactions with Kaz are amazing. In truth, show Inej isn’t the ruthless assassin as her book counterpart. In the show she struggles with killing. I want to see Inej grow into that person while also maintaining her heart.
But Inej still has a way with her knives and she’s great at sneaking around.
In the show, we see Inej bond with Zoya and Alina, and I was super happy about that. Inej really wants some more friends, and I can’t wait for her to bond with Nina and Matthias.
Speaking of the two idiots Nina and Matthias, we don’t see them much in this show. However, fans won’t be disappointed to see Nina and Matthias meet on the boat and bond after the shipwreck. We get to see both of them let down their walls and be vulnerable with each other. And yes, Nina does get her waffles.
I did note that Matthias does not call Nina “Roed fetla,” which he recalls once the crows rescue him in Six of Crows.
I honestly missed this moment. It’s very cute and sweet, but I thought the Matthias and Nina arc needed more. Yes, Mattias is clearly smitten with Nina in the show- this man just kept staring and smiling at her- but I wish they had gotten more moments like this.
Now here are my notes for stuff I wasn’t the biggest fan of:
Zoya. Zoya is overall great; she’s the same mean girl who broke Alina’s ribs in book one. Nothing wrong with the actress’s portrayal of her.
But the show also decided to make her racist. Which was unnecessary. There are plenty of ways to be a bully that don’t involve racial slurs.
On top of that, it’s weird the writers went this route when the actress who portrays Zoya is South Asian. Yes, there are some racist POC out there, but it’s odd the writers decided to go this route with her character. I wasn’t feeling it.
I’m currently rereading Six of Crows but I could have sworn that Jesper had a crush on Kaz in the novels. Or am I tripping? I remember Jesper and Inej bonding over their feelings for Kaz. Not sure if the writers decided not to include this plot or they are building towards it. I don’t know, but I did like that plot point from the novel and wouldn’t mind seeing it in the show.
To end this review I am ecstatic with this book adaption but I do have some notes. I hope this show gets a second season so we can get Wylan and Nikolai.
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until next time you can catch me living in libros,
Nodding my head throughout this entire post. I’m bummed that I never got to read Six of Crows before the show and I’ve now kinda been spoiled with the show but, it was such a fun watch! It took me a minute to figure out that the Darkling was Ben Barnes. I’ve been crushing on him since CoN Prince Caspian movie and so happy to see him cast here. For me Alina & Mal were the least interesting parts of the show. Still enjoyable but, not my favorite. Hoping they’ll choose to see the books through! Such a fun watch. Milo & Jesper love forever.
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There’s still so much to the Six of Crows duology that was not explored so I think you can dive in. All hail Saint Milo!
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What you said about Mal is so true! I still think the books are better, but I like him right away in the Netflix series, whereas in the book series it took me awhile to root for him and Alina.
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They made him lovable!
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I finally started reading Six of Crows! It is just as amazing as I’ve heard. I’m glad they’re incorporating storylines and characters from that duology into the new show. The Crows really help to round out the Grishaverse world.