Trending this week and part of Netflix’s new content every week summer feature, the pilot episode of Shadow & Bone, “A Searing Burst of Light” took up my Wednesday night. The Shadow & Bone eight episode Netflix series that began streaming on April 23rd comes as an adaptation of the Shadow & Bone novel by Leigh Bardugo. It serves as the first novel in a trilogy series of Bardugo’s “Grishaverse” franchise.
So, what exactly is the Grishaverse? To put it simply, imagine a giant sinkhole separating most of the world as we know it into two. To get to the other side, you could cross the sinkhole, known in the series as “The Fold”, except that it’s filled with horrible monsters giving you an extremely slim chance of survival and an extremely high chance of a horribly painful death. You could go around The Fold, North, or South ways, but the societies there are territorial and will kill you on sight. So, monsters and darkness it is. At least for Alina Starkov, an orphaned cartographer who wants to keep her head down and stay next to her best friend Mal.
When Mal is assigned to a new unit, one that is taking voyage through The Fold, Alina takes action to make sure she gets on that boat even though it means risking the lives of her fellow cartographers. But hey, love makes people do crazy things, right?
On the other side of town, another storyline is taking place, and a million kruge (dollars) are at stake as Kaz a big-time con artist who knows everything about everyone searches for a way into the definitely not-legal deal. He’ll attempt to accomplish this gig and a round trip through The Fold with his team of fellow con artists and info-brokers Jesper and Inej, along with a promise to intersect the main Alina Starkov storyline at a later point in the season.
I have never read the Shadow and Bone book series, which could be a hindrance to some viewers like myself, as multiple references are left unexplained as if you’re already meant to know them from the books. Some of the dialogue at the beginning of the episode was questionable:
“Is the fold real?”
“Of course, it’s real! It ate your parents!”
Though I understand that we’re being transported to another universe and world building setup has to come from somewhere.
Once the world around us is built and we watch as this boat destined for danger voyages into darkness, THAT is when the story gets good, and I mean, good.
So, will I continue watching Shadow & Bone?
Simply put, yes.
Freddy Carter’s performance as Kaz Brekker paired with Amita Suman as Inej Ghafa alone were enough to draw me back in for another episode. Alina Starkov is as irresponsible, careless, and dare I say it, selfish as they come,but also courageous, brave, and determined. This is thanks to the wonderful portrayal by Jessica Mei. I haven’t decided if I love or hate Alina Starkov yet, but I’m excited to find out. The cast is expansive, the story, though burning slowly at the beginning is interesting enough to make me want more.
Overall, Shadow & Bone is a binge-worthy watch for anyone who’s brave enough to venture through The Fold. Will you?