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!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

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Ranking the top 5 moments from “American Horror Story: Apocalypse” season 8 episode 2: “What is this, the Hunger Games?”

Happy Thursday TV fans!  After watching the FX network’s American Horror Story:  Apocalypse season 8 episode 2 last night, we witnessed several Easter eggs from previous seasons, foreshadowing the return of some of our favorite characters.  While we don’t know what to expect just yet, these glimpses and hints are not to be ignored.  Please note spoilers are ahead if you have not gotten a chance to watch the latest episode yet.  In last night’s episode, “The Morning After,” Mr. Langdon makes an announcement to the group and explains that he will be conducting a series of questions to find out who is worthy of “cooperating” and joining “The Sanctuary.”  Meanwhile, Timothy and Emily discover Ms. Venable’s deceit and grow closer as a result, Mr. Gallant has a visitor at his door, and we get a fresh new ingredient for dinner.  Anything should be better than Stu, right?  My top 5 moments from American Horror Story:  Apocalypse season 8 episode 2 are:

5

“I thought everything outside was dead.”

In the beginning of the episode, Timothy and Emily are horrified by the presence of snakes in Outpost 3.  Ms. Mead is excited by a new protein for dinner, but everyone else is not so sure.  After all, they have just been traumatized over possibly eating Stu in their stew.  Sorry I can’t let that one go just yet.  The snake soup does not look too appetizing, but the snakes resurrect and are alive when dinner is officially served.  While this moment is horrifying, it also reminds us that this is considered a form of resurrection.  We know that the snakes are not the only ones to come back to life in this new world.  Who’s next?  We’ll have to wait and see, but this absolutely screams “Coven.”

4

“I won’t sugar coat the situation.”

Mr. Langdon quickly introduces himself to the rest of the group and informs them that the rest of the Outposts have been overrun by some kind of “feral cannibals.”  Mr. Langdon explains that The Cooperative had a fail-safe in place and that they have an outpost called “The Sanctuary,” which has security measures protecting it to ensure its survival along with the humans who reside in it.  The group learns that Mr. Langdon has been sent to determine who is worthy of joining “The Sanctuary,” which will involve a series of questions.  Mr. Gallant is the first one to “volunteer as tribute.”  Insert “Hunger Games” joke here, which I thought seemed appropriate since Coco hilariously cried out, “what is this, the Hunger Games?”  Mr. Langdon explains to Mr. Gallant that he will know if he is lying or trying to trick him.  Does this mean that Mr. Langdon possesses some kind of supernatural powers and abilities?  While we are not too sure of this yet, it definitely appears like we are being pointed in that direction.

3

“You’re a fighter.  I like that about you.”

Later in the episode, Mr. Langdon speaks to Ms. Venable in her chambers and reminds her that “complete abstinence” was not part of the rules and that this could be determined punishable by death.  It makes us wonder why Ms. Venable felt the need to enforce this rule so much.  There clearly seems to be a common trend so far of “lust,” creeping into the walls of Outpost 3, which brings us back to Ryan Murphy connecting the seasons of AHS to the “Nine Circles of Hell” from Dante’s Inferno.  You can read more on this theory here! Mr. Langdon recognizes Ms. Venable as a fighter and reminds her that “there’s no need for us to be adversaries.”  He further explains that he wants to see the part of her that humiliates her the most, ordering for her to remove her dress.  Ms. Venable finally shows us some real vulnerability here and hesitantly unzips the back of her dress, revealing some kind of deformity and scarring on her back.  Ms. Venable asks if she has passed the test, but Mr. Langdon coldly replies, “No.”  Before they can get any further, they are interrupted by Ms. Mead who requires Ms. Venable’s immediate attention.

2

“Is this phase 2 of the interview?”

When Mr. Gallant is questioned by Mr. Langdon, there is an underlying sexual tension throughout their conversation.  Mr. Langdon asks Mr. Gallant to tell him about his anger and immediately links it to his grandmother, recognizing that Mr. Gallant has some untamed hatred brewing inside of him.  Later on, there is a knock at Mr. Gallant’s door and he is greeted by an old friend of AHSThe Rubber Man.  The man is dressed in black latex head to toe and Mr. Gallant’s grandmother discovers them having sex.  Fans will remember that The Rubber Man is revealed to be Tate from AHSMurder House (season one), also played by Evan Peters.  This makes things beyond confusing, but it is possible that someone else has embraced the suit, but we will have to wait and find out.  Mr. Gallant’s grandmother reports his behavior, looking out for her own survival and Mr. Gallant is whipped repeatedly by Ms. Mead.  Later on, Mr. Langdon tells him that he has never been to his room and that his neediness and desperation disgust him.  He harshly tells Mr. Gallant that he would not be with him if he was the last man on earth and they are pretty close to that very scenario.  Mr. Gallant is very upset by this cruel rejection and to make matters worse, his own grandmother refuses to accept him as well.  Later on, Mr. Gallant follows the Rubber Man and turns the tables on him, stabbing him for shaming him.  Only he quickly realizes that he has stabbed his grandmother to death instead, now seeing her corpse before his eyes.  Mr. Gallant is horrified by what he has done, just in desperate need for someone to love and accept him.  The damage is done, but we’ll have to wait and see if there are consequences for his actions.

1

“What are we doing?”

During the episode, Timothy and Emily sneak into Mr. Langdon’s room and find his laptop.  They are initially confused on how he can communicate with anyone, but assume it must be some type of satellite.  They read through some of the emails and learn that Ms. Venable has been making up the rules as she goes, particularly about the mandatory abstinence.  Timothy and Emily take things further with their blossoming relationship and it is implied that they do have sex.  Ms. Mead barges into the bedroom when they are sleeping and takes them to be punished.  Emily cries out to Ms. Venable that she knows the rules are not real, but they are still taken away.  A gun is pulled on Timothy and he courageously fights back and gets a hold of the gun.  Ms. Mead is shot and another shock is thrown our way.  Ms. Mead takes a look at her wound and we see some kind of white liquid coming out of it, which is definitely not human.  Is she a robot or something else?  I’m not sure, but it looks like we are in for more and more twists and turns.  Stay tuned!

P.S. fun fact:  Did you notice “The Morning After” song changed over to a song featuring Stevie Nicks?  Is it possible we will see her again along with some of our other favorites from Coven?

I hope you enjoyed the list and feel free to post your own theories and thoughts on American Horror Story:  Apocalypse below in the comments section.  Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Stay up to date on upcoming premieres of horror TV series @ 12nightsofhorror.com/horror-series-coming-soon

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

@TV_Fanatic_Girl

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I am so excited to announce that my book, The Search for Alice, is now available!  If you enjoy fairy-tale retellings, paranormal romance, horror, and mystery, then this might be the book for you or someone you know!  Thank you for taking the time to check it out and I appreciate any feedback as well.  I hope you enjoy!

When Kallie Bennett, a jaded teenage girl plagued by her alcoholic mother and her peers molded out of sheer bubble gum perfection, chases after Alice in Wonderland herself, she ends up lost in her own version of Wonderland, which forces her to face her utmost fears and introduces her to familiar characters with a dark twist. Among these characters is Ches, a gorgeous vampire with a conflicted conscience, who becomes Kallie’s guide and blossoming love interest. She also crosses paths with Queen Hartley, a manipulative witch who has the power to strip away one’s memories and imagination, which brings a bone chilling new meaning to “off with their heads.” In The Search for Alice, Kallie starts to realize that her Wonderland is just as frightening as her own reality and that she cannot always run away from her problems. She must figure out a way to defeat Queen Hartley and return home before it is too late, but she soon learns that escaping Wonderland means leaving Ches behind forever.

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