‘Shadow and Bone’ is fantastic adaptation of Bardugo’s fantasy trilogy


Eric Heisserer’s “Shadow and Bone” is a new eight-episode fantasy series based on the successful trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. It’s stuffed with interesting characters, settings, plot twists and familiar fantasy elements, including characters who possess the ability to control wind, water and fire. 

The show finds us in a war-torn world where a lowly soldier and orphan Alina Starkov (Jesse Mei Lei) 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 with 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.

“Shadow and Bone” works wonderfully as an adaptation because it recounts and expands on the events of the first book in the Grishaverse trilogy, integrating new stories into the fold. Lei as Alina Starkov also gives young girls and women a person of color to look up to.

The most striking part of the show is its epic and eerie soundtrack, underscoring Bardugo’s captivating characters and drawing us into the fictitious kingdom of Ravka. Composed by Joseph Trapanese and performed by the Budapest Art Orchestra, the soundtrack adds great suspense and drama to the plotline.

The first season pulls off a masterful feat: It’s an adaptation of a book that uses the strengths of television to elevate the story on the page. “Shadow and Bone” is an engaging show for any viewer, from fantasy lovers to bookworms and everywhere in between.

Grade: A-