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Netflix’s ‘Shadow and Bone’ Has Been the #1 Show for Days, But Is It Worth the Hype? Here’s My Honest Review

*Warning: Minor spoilers ahead*

There's nothing I love quite like a good fantasy series. When I was little, family members would have to dodge the pointy sticks I waved around when I pretended they were magic wands from the world of Harry Potter. On trips to the local pool, I played games with friends where we pretended we were monsters from the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Even as an adult, I found myself pulled into shows like Game of Thrones, where supernatural themes reign supreme.

So, when I heard that Netflix was adapting the popular Grisha books by Leigh Bardugo into a new television series titled Shadow and Bone, I was highly intrigued. Although I had not read the source material, I was eager to see if Netflix would be providing my newest fantasy obsession.

As it turns out, I wasn't the only one looking forward to the show. When the eight episodes premiered this past Friday, the series quickly jumped to the #1 spot on the streaming site and has stayed there ever since. So, the question remains: Is Shadow and Bone worth the hype? Let's just say, it did not disappoint.

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David Appleby/Netflix

Our series is lead by the willful Alina Starkov, an orphan cartographer living in the nation of Ravka. In this world ravaged by war, there are a group of magical beings called the Grisha, who have the ability to transform the earth's elements into unique weapons. But, in a fateful turn of events, one of these Grisha created the Fold, a swath of darkness filled with killer creatures that separates the east and west sides of Ravka.

When Alina's lifelong friend, Mal, is charged with crossing the Fold, she finds a way to go with him on the dangerous journey. But in the process, she will discover that she might be the most powerful Grisha the world has ever known.

The role of Alina is played by Jessie Mei Li while Archie Renaux plays her best friend, Mal. Other main characters are played by Freddy Carter (Free Rein), Amita Suman (The Outpost), Christopher "Kit" Young (A Midsummer Night's Dream), Ben Barnes (Westworld) and Zoë Wanamaker (Britannia).

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Attila Szvacsek/Netflix

So I know you're wondering, is this series that's getting so much buzz actually worth all the hype? The answer is yes. Shadow and Bone offers plenty of romance, action and mystery to keep you entertained for all eight episodes, and the tense ending of the first episode alone was enough to have me sold.

One of the best parts of Shadow and Bone is that you can see hints of other popular movies and shows within Bardugo's storytelling. When Mal's name gets called to cross the Fold and Alina finds a way to join him, I was reminded of other heroines like Mulan and Katniss Everdeen, who throw themselves into treacherous situations to protect those they care about. Meanwhile, the powers of the Grisha evoke qualities of beings like those in Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Don't get it twisted, though. Shadow and Bone is not merely copying from its predecessors. The series offers originality in droves, with a complex universe (that admittedly, takes a bit of time to fully understand) of creatures, languages and politics.

Meanwhile, the cast is strong, with Jessie Mei Li offering an electrifying performance in the lead role of Alina, and her co-stars matching her contagious energy. (For fans of love triangles, there will certainly be something to offer in these episodes as well).

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Netflix

Purewow Rating:

4 out of 5 stars. Shadow and Bone is worth the hype. This series can sometimes move a little quick (because there's so much going on), but it's a compelling, action-packed adventure that is sure to become everyone's latest fantasy obsession. Now that I've already binged the first season, I'm on my way to go read the books.

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calfee

Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Joel is the former Associate Editor for News & Entertainment and has been reporting on all things pop culture for over 5 years. Before working at PureWow, he served as a...