We’re here again to review Shadow and Bone! You can’t blame us and we know you like it because there is SO MUCH to talk about. After the reviews of a book reader, a non-reader and 5 scenes you can’t miss per episode, we’re going to close this string of reviews with a review of the season. This show has a heart, it has a soul, that’s why we couldn’t title this review otherwise than “Heart in the Shadows.” Will you join us for a last review?
Here we go!
We started this story with Alina, a shy girl who always struggled to fit in but never felt she had a place anywhere, never felt she had a home … her only home was Mal. Her best friend, her confidante, her. ..love. The two of them are as close as two people can be. They are in love but neither dares to take that step.
They both feel the other as their home and, for two people who never had anything, that is very important. That is everything. They don’t want to lose the other so they don’t say anything. They’re so … united that neither of them knows who they are without the other. Since they were children, they have both protected each other, faced the world together. Even Alina protected herself from the possibility of being separated from him if she turned out to be a Grisha.
Their lives, their destinies are so united, so intricate, that a part of themselves belongs to the other and that is not bad. They just … they have to find out who they’re beyond that, beyond them. Because if they don’t, they run the risk of losing themselves. Especially Alina.
After all, Mal, being a tracker, went from one place to another and made real friends, had a chance to feel part of something, to feel that he fit in. His home is still Alina but but he was able to explore himself, find himself and his place in the world beyond Alina.
But Alina was different. She always is. She also grew up and distanced herself from Mal but she continued not to feel part of anything, she continued to not fit in. She became a cartographer simply because she had no choice if she didn’t want to fight … and because then she could be close to Mal. But she always had bigger dreams, she always felt that her destiny was much greater than that.
And she was right.
Alina entered Shadow Fold as a cartographer … and came out of it as a Grisha, as a Sun Summoner.
She found her destiny.
From then on, everything was like an earthquake. Alina met The Darkling, Aleksander, and entered a world that she didn’t understand, that didn’t accept her, that didn’t want her there… and where she would learn who she was.
Once Alina begins to know the true world of her, it is all about her finding out who she is in it. Even there, even where they say her powers make her belong, she doesn’t feel at home. Even there, Mal and her past are still a part of her. Aleksander helps her, shows her what she is destined to be, what both of them are destined to do.
He offers to be part of something bigger than her, a mission, a community, a family and for someone who has been looking for precisely that all her life, it is something very tempting. With Aleksander, she learns that what she feels for Mal doesn’t have to be what she thought. That he doesn’t have to be the only one.
Thus, Aleksander is distant with everyone … except her. With her he is vulnerable, lost, alone … exactly how she felt all her life. Always feeling that she was missing a part of herself and that she was, somehow, empty. He feels the same and Alina believes that she found a kindred spirit, a person who understands her like no one can, not even Mal, because they have felt the same for so long … Alina feels that she found that other half of herself.
As Alina discovers her own powers, she must decide to embrace her future and leave her past behind, including Mal. And so she does. She accepts her fate, sure of who she is, sure of who belongs to her … until everything falls apart. She discovers that everything was a lie and, again, her world vanishes, everything she believed in, everything she thought, all her new life … is also a lie. Aleksander just wants to use her, control her power through the amplifier of Morozova’s deer, a creature as unique … as she is.
From then on, Alina is alone again … except that she is not. Mal is by her side, as always. It is them against the world but, now, they are no longer afraid. He may not have known that Alina was Grisha but it doesn’t matter, she’s still her … and he loves her. They’re almost lost each other… fear seems stupid now and they have a mission: to get that amp before The Darkling. Although nothing goes as expected.
Mal and Alina are on the edge again, about to lose each other … but they are not willing to let it happen. To let him win. And what Aleksander didn’t foresee was that, while he tried to use her, Alina was, in fact, going to know exactly who she was and what her destiny was: to face him and defeat him. And it is what she does. She finally accepts who she is and to defend what is her, her destiny, her power. To defend herself. Although her enemy is not defeated … and The Darkling will not forget.
At all times we can believe that this is about ships, Malina vs Darklina, but it is not. It’s about Alina and how she chooses herself, her powers and chooses to stop hiding and accept who she is, without being afraid to show it to the world.
Our beloved Crows! We have known them in a way that we never thought we would. In Six of Crows we find these characters already with a formed personality, with a past that haunts them, and we get to know their past in small doses, in small moments where we can understand how they became the dysfunctional family that they are.
Shadow And Bone does a great job showing us that past, making us feel it. We understand who Inej is and why, although she is a devoted woman and feels remorse, she kills if necessary to save those she loves. In Six of Crows, we see and understand what she felt the first time she had to do it and why she did it. Why she will do it again.
We know Jesper’s sparkling personality, his ability to get into trouble … and get out of it, his heart and also his addiction to big risks. An addition that will go too far in Six of Crows. And Kaz, we begin to understand who he is, how much he has suffered, why he needs that cane to give him security, what he needs to feel safe and why he had to become something other than Kaz Brekker, how he became Dirtyhands and Bastard of the Barrel.
Also, we meet Nina for the first time as only she is, daring, irreverent, sincere, noble, loyal, fighter, brave, someone who always says what she thinks, even if it hurts and who is all heart. Someone who falls in love with Matthias, with an impossible, with an enemy, with the obviously wrong boy … but the perfect one for her.
And the best thing is that it is a reciprocal love … although painful when they must say goodbye without having enough time, with Matthias thinking of her as a traitor, something that breaks our hearts.
But above all, they teach us how they know each other, how they come together little by little and how what they have experienced now is part of what they will be in the future. They are a family. Kaz is the leader of the band but with them he doesn’t behave exactly like that, each one has a gift and, when they get together, they are the perfect symbiosis, the perfect team, the perfect family.
They are people who would never have met if life had not mistreated them, if the world had not shown them its cruellest side. But when they met, despite everything, they managed to find their place, they managed to feel at home.
It’s the perfect prequel for these characters because it allows us to get to know them in a different way than Six of Crows, connect with them, understand them more, love them more. And it’s just the beginning … there is yet to be discovered because, for example, we didn’t treat Kaz’s past too much.
This couple … there are thousands of things I can say about them. In fact, I’ve said enough in each of my articles about 5 scenes you can’t miss. But now I want to focus on something that I didn’t mention before: their chemistry.
You see, all the characters and couples have chemistry in Shadow And Bone. But with Darklina or Malina, the chemistry was easier to find and achieve because they are characters that touch each other, that have that physical connection. Kanej is not like that. Kanej is about peeking glances, half smiles, unspoken words, being vulnerable, emotionally connecting with someone … without touching them.
Amita and Freddy’s chemistry is … it’s almost inexplicable. It’s that kind of chemistry that gives you chills when you see them on screen, that makes your knees shake, that makes you cry.
At this point in the story Inej and Kaz are already in love, they already feel that so strongly that it unites them, although they don’t know how to name it but Kaz cannot bear to be touched and for Inej it is also difficult, due to everything she suffered and they had to teach us that, show us.
They had to show us that Kaz is vulnerable only with her, that he only lowers his armor, his facade, with her, how he needs her in her life, how she needs him. How both will always have space for the other to be as they are, even if they’re broken and desolate and alone and damaged.
Kaz feels that he is so damaged, that he has had to become so evil, that he has had to pay such a high price to survive that he doesn’t deserve Inej’s love, that he doesn’t deserve her. So they had to show that longing, that way of loving her in the distance, always having her close to him but so far from her at the same time, always admiring her in the shadows, always settling for being on her radar. And letting her go, with letting her free to regain what was taken from her for so long, for her to be happy. Even if it’s away from him.
With Inej they had to show those latent feelings for Kaz but that strength to not be overwhelmed, to decide for herself and not get lost when trying to save him, so that she was not the only one who tried to bring him into the light, risking falling through the hole the rabbit into the dark.
In Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom we can read the thoughts of both characters so we know it but in Shadow And Bone they had to show it. Not only with dialogue – which is amazing, by the way – but through their eyes, their expressions. Amita and Freddy are the perfect Inej and Kaz. Kanej. They are part of why this couple is so special, why we love them so much.
So it’s about that, showing us this spiritual connection in a way even more intimate than any caress. So that through their eyes they could see themselves, see the truth of what they were not saying, of what they could not say.
HEART IN THE SHADOWS
It’s no secret that I didn’t like the first Shadow And Bone book (I’m reading the second one and the beginning is already so much better than the entire Shadow And Bone book) and I adored Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. The show didn’t have it easy, then, to hook me or make me like it. And not only did it succeed, it went beyond that.
I mean, I always loved my Crows so I knew I was going to love them in Shadow And Bone but I never had strong feelings for any couple or character in the Shadow And Bone book. In fact, I didn’t like Mal or Alina, I always thought that both of them lacked a lot of blood in their veins. And Darklina well, it looked cute but then we found out everything and well, it was over before I could care.
But the show changed that. I think it gives the characters enormous depth, a backstory that makes you understand their decisions or where they come from, what they are like. They also give us a much bigger perspective of what Mal and Alina mean to each other, being able to appreciate the Darklina moments and what it meant to Alina, how necessary it is for her to live that and discover who she is beyond Mal.
At the same time, they also teach us something from The Darkling’s past so that we can understand much better who he was and who he became. Ben Barnes does a terrific job elevating this villain from bland in the first book to interesting on the show. Archie made me love Mal and Jessie Mei Li, he made it possible for me not only to love Alina but also root for her.
The adaptation also gave a very good dimension to the story so that even the secondary characters would shine and have their moment and those who had not even read the book could understand this complex world.
And what about the Crows. It was not easy to unite these characters, these two stories that at first are so disconnected and even occur at different times. But Shadow And Bone does an amazing job. It ties it all together in a way that you can’t believe that at some point these stories were disconnected.
It’s the perfect prequel to what we see in Six of Crows. You really understand where the characters come from and how they got there, what their feelings are, how they came together, the family they form, what they are like…absolutely everything.
And we love them even more.
We can’t wait to continue meeting these characters and going on adventures alongside them. Shadow And Bone Season 2 soon, please!