Shadow and Bone: Book-to-Series Adaptation

Shadow and Bone, written by Leigh Bardugo in 2012 was recently translated into a Netflix series back in April. The show closely follows the plot of the first book in the trilogy: the plot in which Alina Starkov discovers she has special powers and is taken away to the Grisha palace in order to realize her full potential and help destroy the darkness that has been plaguing her country. Or so she thinks. 

If you tune into this show after reading only the first book in Bardugo’s trilogy expecting to see an exact play-by-play of the novel, you will definitely be in for a surprise. Thanks to showrunner and scriptwriter Eric Heisserer who wouldn’t create the show without both, Shadow and Bone meets Six of Crows in this crossover event of both books. Through this process of translation a fully new text was made, one that simultaneously has a strong relationship with its original source, yet is fully independent from it. For loyal fans of the books, it’s best to go into this show with the author’s words in mind. In an interview for the show Bardugo says, “When you write a book, you close the door on all the ‘what-ifs?’ Once it’s on the page there’s no way to revisit it, so the chance to see some of these characters interact in a way that they never interact on the page—the fact that Alina and Inej get to meet, the fact that General Kirigan, the Darkling, and Kaz face off in an alley—these are ‘what-ifs’ that I never would have gotten to explore in my books.” She added, “A lot of readers have asked me about over the years, so it was pretty spectacular to get to see them play out.” 

With that being said, as a hardcore book lover, I was extremely skeptical of merging two series within the same universe but with completely different timelines. It just doesn’t feel right, I thought. There’s no way to have the characters in the same timeline without the world imploding, I thought. How is the integrity of Shadow and Bone going to be kept when it has to be intertwined with the Six of Crows plot? And vice versa. How wrong I was. 

Before I get into how amazing this show was, I have to say that it’s taken me about two rewatches and a trip to the bookstore in order to buy the last books in the Shadow and Bone trilogy and the Six of Crows duology in order to find any thoughts other than “Squeeeeeeeeeee!” after my first viewing. 

To start off, I have to discuss the element that hooked me right off the bat—the cast. The wonderful, lovely, diverse cast who seemed as if they were picked right out of the books themselves. The script and actors worked seamlessly to capture the characters in a way that brought the book to life, even with this new take on the Grishaverse. It’s one thing for actors to play their characters from the exact source material, it’s another to embody them so well that no matter what direction they go in, they’re able to know exactly what the characters in the book would do. 

While Jessie Mei Li as Alina Starkov and Ben Barnes as General Kirigan, a.k.a. The Darkling, brought life and tension into their characters and relationships, all my doubts went away as soon as I first saw the Crows on screen. Freddy Carter as Kaz, Kit Young as Jesper, and Amita Suman as Inej took my breath away—and not just because Freddy Carter is now my phone wallpaper. The Crows righted the wrongs that I felt while reading the first book which eliminated my worries about how the show would work. During my Shadow and Bone read, I often found myself bored and needing action. There was too much exposition, too much of Alina learning about her powers and strength. I am positive that without the immersion of the action packed, heist-filled book about criminals, the show would have been dragged out in a way that left the viewers sleeping with the show on in the background. Six of Crows brought out what Shadow and Bone was missing and brought balance to the world that was originally built with the information and exposition in the first book. 

The show also righted the wrong of Malyen Oretsev played by Archie Renaux. Mal in the book was portrayed as a one note character who wasn’t likable in the slightest. I didn’t root for him and Alina in the book at all. Although I’m still a Darklina shipper, I found myself believing in their relationship a lot more in the series. The show went into depth in showing Alina and Mal’s relationship as children and showed the lengths Mal was going to in order to reunite with Alina. 

Though you can probably guess that my affection leans towards the Crows, I was still on the edge of my seat for how and when the characters from both series would finally cross paths. The more comfortable you get with the idea of creating an entirely different plot, the more excited you get watching your favorite characters interacting with each other in a way that was never possible before. It’s really something magical, and I feel like all book lovers can appreciate this new way to create and merge what they loved on the page, even though it might be different than what you imagined and were loyal to in the books. 

My only qualm about this TV series is that our Sun Summoner, Alina Starkov, was a little bland. I was unimpressed by her character in the book as well since she spent the entire time writing letters and training. My only wish is to have her develop more in the next season, with more focus on her own character and who she is as a person, and less on her relationships.

Overall, readers and non-readers alike will find something to fall in love with with the new Shadow and Bone TV series. There was just so much care and detail brought into this show, which I believe everyone can appreciate. Details such as Ravkan money in the Crow Club, keftas intricately embroidered, Genya’s tailoring with things found in nature (which is a small detail in the book, and I was pleased that’s how they made her magic work in the show as well), and an entirely new made up language really immerse people into this world. Whether it’s the characters, exquisite costumes, beautiful scenery, ingenious scriptwriting, or the magical lore that Leigh Bardugo created, I have no doubts that this should be your next binge watch or read. Or both. And when you’ve finished, you can find me in my Ketterdam sweatshirt learning how to throw knives and sharpshoot so we can talk about it together.


“‘Shadow and Bone’ Cast Break Down New Netflix Series | Around the Table | Entertainment Weekly.” YouTube, uploaded by Entertainment Weekly, 30 April 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXSB5LyD4Q8&t=412s

What I Learned About Misogyny Through Reading The Phantom Prince: My Life With Ted Bundy

Elizabeth Kendall’s The Phantom Prince: My Life With Ted Bundy recounts her long-lived romance with one of America’s most prolific serial killers, Ted Bundy. The firsthand account is terrifying, but not for the reasons you might think. Elizabeth doesn’t spend time detailing the killings themselves, but instead tells the story of Ted Bundy from her perspective: that of a lover. Haunting is the tale, as she slowly realizes that a person she loved and trusted was capable of such horrendous crimes.

However, upon reading this novel, there was a component I found to be far more chilling: the power that Bundy held as a man in the 1960s and ‘70s, that allowed him to more easily manipulate his relationship with Kendall. In turn, she was led to believe her instinct was wrong, which manifested in her strong feelings of guilt for suspecting him of murder. 

First, Bundy was able to begin to manipulate Kendall by agreeing to marry her, only to break off the engagement numerous times. Even as he began to betray her trust and pursue affairs with other women, she was coerced into believing he was going to marry her. This was especially important given the context of the times, because she was pressured into marriage by both her peers and parents. This allowed Bundy to wrap her around his finger and keep her looped in for years, even after she had reason to end the relationship beyond reasonable doubt.  

In addition, Bundy used her naivete and lack of self confidence to feed her sense of self-doubt. In her novel, Elizabeth often expressed that she felt ugly—especially in comparison to other women with whom Bundy was involved. These ideas were enforced often throughout the relationship, as Bundy would often tell her she was the love of his life, only to tell her she was clingy and desperate days later. This vicious cycle continued to instill doubt into Elizabeth, and contributed to her beliefs that she was inferior to her male counterpart. 

Perhaps the most crucial example of misogyny in the novel occurred outside of Elizabeth’s personal relationship with Ted Bundy. Instead, it took place when she initially attempted to speak with detectives about her concerns regarding Bundy’s involvement in local murders and kidnappings. Despite the evidence Elizabeth provided, she was often written off by male detectives as a ‘crazy’ girlfriend who was accusing her partner of a crime without any form of evidence. This, however, proved to be wildly untrue, as Bundy was eventually convicted of all the crimes Elizabeth tipped off detectives about. Even more disturbing is the fact that the male detectives seemed more concerned with Kendall’s sex life with Bundy than they were about her thoughts on his involvement in the crimes themselves. This was, without a doubt, one of the most striking examples of misogyny in the novel.

In conclusion, I feel that Kendall’s novel was very important, even in today’s political climate. Although her suspicions may have been taken more seriously in the present day, there are still parallels due to the leverage Bundy took advantage of by being the male in the relationship, and the lack of influence Elizabeth had over detectives because she was perceived as a woman with little self-confidence. The Phantom Prince is a worthwhile read for those who are seeking to reflect on gender roles and their unfair impact both within personal relationships and outside them.

Elizabeth Kendall, Getty/Netflix via esquire.com

5 Books for Increasing Mindfulness

In our fast-paced and overloaded world, alone time has become a rare commodity. In contrast to the typical hustle and bustle of everyday life, extended time in isolation has allowed for some serious self-reflection. Although I adamantly dislike time alone with my thoughts, there is a lot of good that can potentially grow from these less-than-ideal circumstances. We often find ourselves mindlessly going through the motions in our daily lives, without investing time to reflect on where we are devoting our energy. This is the perfect time to take a step back and re-evaluate the way we are living our lives. As we prepare to head back out into the world, it can be worthwhile to take stock and look at the places where we invest our time and energy. In doing this, I found the following books to be instrumental to creating a life more firmly-centered around mindfulness, intentional living, and overall well-being.


Notes on a Nervous Planet— Matt Haig. Following the publication of his highly-lauded memoir, Reasons to Stay Alive, Haig wrote Notes on a Nervous Planet, a book about the ways in which modern society fosters anxiety and unhappiness. His book consists of bite-sized tidbits (that are somewhat chaotically arranged) to advise people on managing their anxiety in the twenty-first century. Haig likens our planet to a sentient being on the brink of a breakdown and explains how the modern world is one that deteriorates our mental well-being. This book is especially versatile in that it is broken up into small segments that are easy to digest and put into practice. The sections I found particularly useful include ‘Maybe,’ which speaks to the transient nature of happiness, ‘an excess of everything,’ in regards to our overloaded lives, and ‘What I tell myself when things get too much,’ a list of reminders when we are feeling overwhelmed.


The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up—Marie Kondo. While this may seem redundant give the title of the book, I can’t stress enough that this book will change your life. As a firm believer that the state of your living space reflects the state of your mind, Kondo’s book is revolutionary in that it offers tips and tools to create both an organized house and mind. On the surface, this book seems like it would have nothing interesting or practical to offer other than, you know, don’t make a mess. The KonMari method goes far deeper than this, though, and introduces a lifestyle centered around intentionality and mindfulness with your physical possessions. She urges you to only surround yourself with belongings that “spark joy,” and that doing this will simplify every aspect of your life.


Tuesdays with Morrie—Mitch Albom. Mitch Albom tells the story of his old college professor, Morrie Schwartz, who is dying from ALS. Instead of being angry or saddened by this news, however, Morrie chooses to focus on the wonderful gift of knowing that he is dying, and the freedom this grants him to live intentionally. Morrie spends his last months teaching Mitch—and, by extension, us—about where we should focus our attention in our lives. Tuesdays with Morrie is a book that I think everyone could benefit from owning and finding time to read once a year. Every time I come back to this book, I learn something new that I can apply to my current situation in life.


10% Happier—Dan Harris. Dan Harris was a newscaster with ABC when he suffered from a panic attack on live television. This event sparked a period of self-reflection in Dan’s life, and, through this, he found his way to meditation. A lifelong skeptic and nonbeliever in meditation, Harris’s book is written specifically for skeptics and lays out in no-nonsense, scientific terms how meditation can be beneficial for the mind and body. Instead of professing the life-changing nature of this practice, however, Harris remains a realist—he explains that engaging in mindfulness activities will make you 10% happier. When the stakes are so low, it’s hard to find a good reason not to introduce meditation as a habit in your life. 


The Little Prince—Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. This book might seem like an odd addition to the list, given that most of the other books here are of the self-help variety. Personally, I tend to be a bit skeptical of books that tell me how I should live my life, and that’s why I added Saint-Exupéry’s children’s book. The Little Prince is a well-loved classic, and for good reason—this story reminds us in the simplest possible terms where we should be focusing our attention in our lives. We as humans have a tendency to overcomplicate things, and this book is the perfect way to recenter and remind ourselves that “what is essential to the heart is invisible to the eyes.” A simple, oft-stated message, but one that is sadly kicked to the curb in our hurried and fast-paced lives.