Culture, television

Review: ‘Shadow & Bone’ (2021)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

When Netflix announced they would be adapting Leigh Bardugo’s hugely popular ‘Grishaverse’ books, the hype exploded and never went quiet. The Grisha Trilogy and the Six of Crows duology are both behemoths of YA literature, their popularity so widespread that even if you hadn’t read the books, it was practically impossible to exist on YA-dominated parts of social media without learning to recognise the cast of characters by osmosis. A series adapting these books, which have been giants of the YA fantasy sector for nearly ten years, would come with a built-in fanbase, and, by extension, the pressure of nearly a decade of fandom debates, expectations and ideas to live up to. 

Now the first season of Shadow & Bone is days away from premiering, and the question on every fan’s mind — did they pull it off — is about to be answered.

For the uninitiated, Netflix’s synopsis of the series is as follows: Shadow and Bone finds us in a war-torn world where lowly soldier and orphan Alina Starkov has just unleashed an extraordinary power that could be the key to setting her country free. With the monstrous threat of the Shadow Fold looming, Alina is torn from everything she knows to train as part of an elite army of magical soldiers known as Grisha. But as she struggles to hone her power, she finds that allies and enemies can be one and the same and that nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. There are dangerous forces at play, including a crew of charismatic criminals, and it will take more than magic to survive.

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Culture, television

Review: ‘Bridgerton’ (2020)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

In the last year or so, but specifically the last six months, a genre I’ve found myself reading more than ever before is romance. Despite my plethora of ‘ships’, it wasn’t a genre I knew much about, but I’ve taken to it with a vengeance. It’s hugely diverse — whether you like contemporary or historical or fantasy settings, whether you lean towards angst and drama or sweetness and humour, whether you like your sex scenes fading-to-black or (quite literally) laid bare in front of you, the genre covers it all. If there is a unifying trait to a genre this multifaceted, however, it’s the promise of a Happily Ever After. No matter how dark or twisty the journey is, to go into a romance novel is to go in with the promise that everything will be alright in the end. Broken hearts will heal, feelings will be requited, and the sun only sets for couples to ride off into. It’s little wonder this genre has been such a go-to in times like these, I think. The predictability and promise of beloved tropes and familiar endings is enormously comforting and dependable, even more so when nothing else in the world is.

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