Spoiler-Free Review of “Shadow and Bone” on Netflix: Entertaining but Jam-Packed Fantasy

*This is a spoiler-free review so feel free to read on!*

“The dark is a place that is full of monsters…”

Shadow and Bone premiered on Netflix on April 23rd 2021. The series features eight episodes available to stream now. It stars Jessie Mei Li, Archie Renaux, Ben Barnes, Freddy Carter, and Amita Suman. Each episode runs for approximately 55 minutes.

Based on the popular Grisha book series, Shadow and Bone follows a mapmaker orphan named Alina Starkov who discovers a power within her that could change the world.

Here is the trailer:

Shadow and Bone is jam-packed with quite a lot, but it’s easy to get lost without proper context. While this show channels a familiar plot, it does have a lot going on to keep us invested. Does it do enough to stand out as a proper fantasy series? Let’s find out…

The Pros:

Shadow and Bone Spoiler Free Review 1

Images courtesy of Netflix

Entertaining at its core.

The show is clever about the placement of events during each episode. While there is a lot going on, it does enough to keep you coming back for more, which makes this series binge-watch worthy. I thought the very end of the pilot episode was so well done and I was immediately hooked.

Much like Game of Thrones and The Witcher, the audience sits around waiting for a pay off, but when these scenes arrive, they are brilliantly done and you remember why you are watching the show in the first place.

Immersive world.

I thought that this realm or world was so intriguing. I’ve watched and read a lot of teen dystopian-esque fantasy series and it was really extraordinary to see this particular world come to life. I think it really worked in the show’s favor not having it take place in the “real world,” adding to the fantasy elements.

The Cons:

Shadow and Bone Spoiler Free Review 2

Images courtesy of Netflix

Wishy-Washy Chosen One.

I’m all for a story about a female chosen one and I had very high expectations for Alina Starkov. She has these really cool abilities and a great story to work with, but there was something lacking here. I thought that Jessica Mei Li gave a solid performance, but I had trouble connecting with her.

I want to be rooting for my female lead from the start and that didn’t really happen here even though there were some glimmers throughout the series of strength and potential. I think that the supporting characters captured more of my attention, which shows that there was a great cast, but I wanted more from our lead.

Fantasy by the numbers with awkward wide eyed stares…

You can check off each of your fantasy tropes with this particular series. I didn’t really mind them, but it didn’t help this series stand out from The Hunger Games and Divergent, which have similar plots.

I also could not take the constant wide eyed stares between the characters that seemed to last for over five minutes at a time. We can do a better job of creating moments without this…

So am I in or out?

Images courtesy of Netflix

I’m in…

This series is packed with a lot. I think that fans of the book series will enjoy it for the most part. The series made a valiant effort to bring this world to life while introducing it to a new audience. You really have to pay attention to this show and probably need a guide to keep track of everything, but if you are looking for an entertaining fantasy binge-watch, you’re in the right place.

Overall, this series does enough to bring us into this world and I was invested and entertained throughout my watch.

I hope you enjoyed the review and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on Shadow and Bone in the comments section below. Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!


Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl


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Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

I live in Long Island, NY. I am obsessed with TV, movies, reading and writing! My top TV shows are Lost, Breaking Bad, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Prison Break, Charmed, Veronica Mars, and Beverly Hills 90210. My dog, Honey, loves TV too!

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