Shadow and Bone – The Books Were Better


‘Shadow and Bone’ Season 2: Release Date, Trailer and More - Netflix Tudum

The Shadow and Bone Netflix series left many fans disappointed.

Madelyn Stumbo, Website Editor

Shadow and Bone is a Netflix series based on the books by Leigh Bardugo. The show has two seasons so far, with season one released in April 2021 and season two in March 2023. Season two of the show transforms the world from the books to the screen incredibly well, and the portrayal of the characters and their development is impressive, but the show struggles to stay true to the novels and misses crucial details. At times, it feels rushed and chaotic, unfortunately making it hard to follow along and feel attached to the characters. 

On social media, author Leigh Bardugo states, “The show will be radically different from (the) books. But in the most amazing way. (It) will be pretty much a high-budget fanfiction.” True to her word, the show is similar to the books but follows a different plotline and narrative. Leigh Bardugo has written many series in her universe, which she calls the Grishaverse, and has sold over 2 million copies of her books. 

The Shadow and Bone book follows Alina, a girl who discovers she has a special power to summon light in a world divided by darkness. Six of Crows, Arguably the most popular book in the series, follows a gang of teenagers in a country called Kerch, who must complete impossible heists and must constantly fight for their lives. However, the Netflix show is titled Shadow and Bone, named after the first series in the Grishaverse, even though the show follows both “Shadow and Bone” and “Six of Crows”.

This confused many fans because the stories are supposed to take place years apart, and the conclusion of the Shadow in Bone book series is very crucial to the storyline of Six of Crows, but the show squishes them together in a weird mismatched series of events, with key plot points being thrown out the window, and entirely new events coming out of nowhere. 

Although the plot is completely backwards and upside down, the show still does an amazing job of developing the characters and setting. The series takes place in the Grishaverse, which is a completely different universe than ours.  It showcases many different cultures and countries, like Ravka, Fjerdan, and Kerch, which are all loosely based on real countries, from 18th-century Russia to the Dutch Republic. The world-building in the show is stunning and each country is designed and set up extraordinarily well. Although the countries are entirely fictional, you can see the differences between the separate cultures.. 

For the most part, we get to see the characters grow and change over the course of the show, as we see more of their background and interactions with each other, but some characters who are key components of the books have been reduced to side characters with just a few lines. For example,  in the Six of Crows books, a character named Wylan is a key member of the story, but in the show, he isn’t given enough screen time compared to his role in the show. Even more confusing than the newly sidelined characters, are the scenes in which characters that shouldn’t ever have an interaction suddenly become friends or foes. 

One of the biggest issues with the show is the amount of alterations that had to be done to make theSix of Crowsplotline fit within the events of Shadow and Bone. Most of the beloved book is simply nonexistent in the show, besides a few quotes and out-of-place scenes. Throughout the series, we see several scenes with direct quotes from the book, but they are under different circumstances, and there are usually key details missing. However, there might just be enough traces of Six of Crows in the show to satisfy fans and make it worth a watch. 

Another major issue is its inability to execute all of the storylines at once. The show tries to cover events across 4+ books, and even adds some of its own events, leading to details, backstories, and important information being left out completely. This can make it hard to decipher what’s happening and where the show is trying to go. It can be especially infuriating for fans of the books to know how much better the plot could have been.  

Despite these errors, the show isn’t terrible. As long as you can get past how different it is from the books, it’s still worth a watch. If you accept that the show in no way, shape, or form stays loyal to the books, it can be exciting to see the Grishaverse and its characters come alive on screen.