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'Shadow and Bone': everything you need to know about the Netflix fantasy drama

Jessie Mei Li in Shadow and Bone
Jessie Mei Li as Alina Starkov in Shadow and Bone. (Image credit: COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2021)

Shadow and Bone is heading to our screens very soon, so get ready for your next Netflix obsession.

Based on the Grishaverse novels (opens in new tab) by author Leigh Bardugo, the series, which has distinct Cursed and The Witcher vibes, mixes magic, action and adventure. 

But what’s in store? Here’s everything you need to know…

Shadow and Bone release date

Shadow and Bone, which is eight parts, will air worldwide from Friday April 23 on Netflix.

What is Shadow and Bone about?

The series in based on Bardugo’s trilogy of Shadow and Bone novels (opens in new tab) and her two Six of Crows (opens in new tab) books and centers on Alina Starkov, an orphaned young mapmaker who lives in the kingdom of Ravka, which has been divided by a sinister barrier known as the Shadow Fold, where dangerous monsters lurk. 

Alina discovers that she has a special power that makes her one of the elite Grisha, and which could unite her troubled land. But, as she becomes part of a powerful magical army, terrifying forces go all out to stop her, while a gang of young thieves and vagabonds cause further turmoil.

Shadow and Bone takes place in a very different kind of fantasy world,” says Bardugo, who is an executive producer on the show. “Think Imperial Russia, not Medieval England. It's a story about the people who have been told how much they don't matter proving how much they do.”

Who’s in it?

Ben Barnes in Shadow and Bone

Ben Barnes as General Kirigan in Shadow and Bone. (Image credit: COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2021)

Jessie Mei Li, whose credits include Strangers, heads the cast as Alina, while The Punisher and Gold Digger’s Ben Barnes plays mysterious General Kirigan, who heads up the Second Army of the Grisha, and Archie Renaux, who also appeared in Gold Digger, plays Alina’s friend Malyen Oretsev, a tracker, who is desperate to keep her safe. 

The wily gang members are gambler and gunslinger Jesper Fahey, played by Kit Young, whose credits include Endeavour, assassin Inej Ghafa, known as the Wraith, played by Doctor Who’s Amita Suman, and underworld hard man Kaz Brekker, played by Pennyworth’s Freddy Carter.

Harry Potter’s Zoë Wanamaker is Alina’s teacher Baghra, Harlots’ Daisy Head is Grisha Genya Safin, Devils’ Kevin Eldon is priest The Apparat, Snatch’s Luke Pasqualino is Grisha David Kostyk, Game of Thrones’ Danielle Galligan is Grisha spy Nina Zenik and relative newcomer Calahan Skogman is witch hunter Matthias Helvar.

Is there a trailer?

There's only an announcement teaser so far, which shows a majestic white stag standing in a snow-bound forest as a voice intones, “You and I are going to change the world”...

Caren has been a journalist specializing in TV for almost two decades and is a Senior Features Writer for TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and What’s On TV magazines and she also writes for What to Watch.


Over the years, she has spent many a day in a muddy field or an on-set catering bus chatting to numerous stars on location including the likes of Olivia Colman, David Tennant, Suranne Jones, Jamie Dornan, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Derek Jacobi as well as Hollywood actors such as Glenn Close and Kiefer Sutherland.


Caren will happily sit down and watch any kind of telly (well, maybe not sci-fi!), but she particularly loves period dramas like Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and The Crown and she’s also a big fan of juicy crime thrillers from Line of Duty to Poirot.


In her spare time, Caren enjoys going to the cinema and theatre or curling up with a good book.