Shadow and Bone is based on two YA book series – The Grisha Trilogy (beginning with Shadow and Bone) and Six of Crows duology, both by Leigh Bardugo. I’m not sure if and how these stories will overlap in one Netflix production because while taking place in the same fictional world, they follow a different plot and characters. The trailer mostly focuses on Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li), an orphan and soldier, who turns out to have an extraordinary power that might save the oppressed country. We see her join The Darkling (Ben Barnes, The Chronicles of Narnia, Punisher) who promises to support her in honing newly discovered magic. We also get a glimpse of characters from Six of Crows – the criminals looking for a profit in a vicious city, Ketterdam.
The trailer convinced me that everyone is cast perfectly. Even though the actual acting skills are yet to be seen (most of the actors have little experience), the energy between them gives hope for a persuasive performance. In addition, Bardugo’s fans will appreciate that Alina, Mal, Darkling, Kaz, Jesper, Inej, or even side characters like Genya, look as if pulled right out of the page. I’m only concerned about Kaz and the Darkling since capturing their charisma on the screen might be problematic.
The trailer surprises with impressive special effects for a Netflix production. But even though the Shadow Fold appears thrilling, I’m wondering if filmmakers didn’t overuse CGI. I hope that the setting will look as natural as it is possible, especially that the Russia-inspired world made me fall in love with the novels in the first place.
Costumes are another thing that garners some attention - especially The Darkling's ring and kefta, an outfit worn by characters with magical powers. Since they are an essential part of the culture Bardugo created in books, it’s amazing to see how well they were designed.
I’m looking forward to Shadow and Bone's release and I'm especially curious how filmmakers managed to bring two separate literary stories together in one TV series. I’m not expecting a visual copy of the novels – I just hope for an entertaining production capturing the unique atmosphere of the books.