Shadow and Bone Cast Reaction!

Last year I finally read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom and, of course, I adored them. It’s now one of my favourite series and Six of Crows is one of my favourite books of all time; all six characters are my disaster children and I love them a great deal.

Then earlier this year I pushed my way through the original Grisha trilogy so I could read King of Scars with all the background info I needed, and while I didn’t love the trilogy as much I’m glad I read them. Naturally, when I discovered Netflix was adapting these books, I got very excited!

I have to admit that I’ve been a little nervous about this adaptation ever since it was revealed that they would be combining Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows. They’re both such different stories that I still don’t really get how it’s going to work, but Leigh Bardugo herself seems really satisfied with the direction the show is going and, ultimately, it’s an adaptation. It’s never going to be the books on screen, so the best thing we can do is accept the adaptation for what it is while still enjoying the books whenever we want to return to the original stories.

This week some of the cast were finally announced, so I thought I’d chat about my thoughts!

The Cast


Ben Barnes as The Darkling

I must admit, this casting choice came as a surprise – I wasn’t expecting to see anyone in this show that I recognised! A lot of fans seem really satisfied with this choice which is great – I’m not really the best person to talk about this casting because the Darkling is probably my least favourite character. Blasphemy, I know.

I dunno, considering he’s an ancient force I didn’t expect him to act like a petulant toddler for the majority of the series. Personally I think Ben Barnes is quite baby-faced, which isn’t quite how I picture the Darkling, but I am really glad that they’ve cast someone who’s older than the other characters; the fact that the Darkling is quite a bit older than Alina has a lot to do with the power dynamics between them.

Ultimately I’m interested in seeing what Ben does with the role – maybe I’ll like the Darkling more in the show!

Jessie Mei Li as Alina Starkov

I am SO EXCITED by this casting choice. I read Alina as a woc when I read the trilogy, so to see the show decide to portray her as mixed race, with ancestry from Ravka and Shu Han, is so exciting. I can really see her in this role, I think she’s going to be great, and I’m looking forward to seeing what her version of Alina is like.

Again, I wasn’t Alina’s biggest fan in the books – she didn’t really have a personality for me until book three – so I’m hoping I’ll like her in the show a lot more!

Archie Renaux as Malyen Oretsev

I didn’t really have a clear picture in my head for Mal, so I would have been satisfied with pretty much everyone, but this tweet from Archie Renaux gave me the biggest smile.

I don’t love Mal, I didn’t really love any of the characters in the original trilogy (apart from Zoya, who is my queen), but I like him a LOT more than the Darkling which I know is a hugely unpopular opinion. He’s not perfect and he says and does some shitty things (as does Alina) but he’s also a teenage boy, so I’m going to give a teenager more slack than an immortal murderer with an attitude problem. I’ve been enjoying sitting back with my popcorn and watching Mal-haters tell Archie Renaux they never really hated Mal, though, because I’m salty af.


Freddy Carter as Kaz Brekker

Look, any actor who announces he’s got the part with the quip ‘Brekkin’ news’ is immediately on my good side. The casting of Kaz is probably the casting I’ve been most nervous about because he’s my ultimate fave, he’s my murder child, and while I’d like to see Freddy Carter in costume to see how I really feel I do love that they’ve cast someone with cheekbones that could cut glass. I’d’ve sued otherwise.

I also like that they’re actually casting people who look young as these teenage characters (I say ‘look’ because I don’t know how old these people are, so they could be in their mid-twenties for all I know*) and I can’t wait to see Kaz on screen.

*I just looked it up and Freddy Carter is actually 26, but I’m really bad at guessing ages so just ignore me.

Amita Suman as Inej Ghafa

Inejjjj! T_T Inej very closely follows Kaz as my second favourite character and she was another character I was really nervous about the casting of. I’ve actually seen Amita Suman in something! She was in an episode of the most recent series of Doctor Who and, from what I remember, I liked her.

Like Kaz, I can’t wait to see her in costume and see her in action before I completely make my mind up, but she looks very, very similar to how I picture Inej. Can I get a trailer for this series now please?

Kit Young as Jesper Fahey

Look at that little face! He looks like butter wouldn’t melt, which I think is perfect for Jesper. I can’t wait to see what Kit Young does with the role and to see this show’s version of the flirty, bisexual mess that is Jesper. Again, I’m just really excited to see him in costume!

Final Thoughts

Ultimately I’d say I’m pretty satisfied! The casting announcement I’m most anticipating now is Nina; I’m really hoping they’ve cast a plus size actress for Nina and I’ll be pretty upset if they’ve slimmed her down for the show. It’s so rare to see plus size characters in fantasy unless they’re the comic relief.

I must admit that I’m also the tiniest bit disappointed that, thus far, there aren’t any Russian or Slavic actors in the cast. Considering Ravka is inspired by Russia, it’d be nice to see some actors from that part of the world in the show!

It’s great to see such a diverse cast already, though, and I can’t wait to see the first promo pictures for the show.

Are you excited for the Shadow and Bone series? What are your thoughts on the casting?

9 thoughts on “Shadow and Bone Cast Reaction!

  1. Wendy @ Book Scents says:

    YES. I hate the Darkling. He’s actually an abusive a-hole to Alina and I feel like I have a physical reaction every time I see someone swoon or ship him with Alina. I loved Mal. He recognized his faults and the bad choices/things he did (hellooo teen boy) and changed — imo he had a great character arc where he really grew and was literally the only person who wanted Alina for HER and not her power. Sorry, I will ramble about that for ages HA. I hate how many people hate Mal! I’m excited to see the adaptation but am also tempering my expectations because I am a little confused how they will mesh both the stories. I can’t wait to see though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jess @ Jessticulates says:

      Exactly! I can understand where the Darkling’s coming from and why he’s so popular, even if I do disagree with his methods, but it’s kind of gross to me how many people ship him with Alina considering the way he treats her. I mean he even almost seduces her when she doesn’t really know she is, and if she doesn’t know who he is then she can’t consent. Mal isn’t perfect by any means, and I don’t even necessarily love him and Alina together because I think it would have been interested for Alina to end up alone, but he gets way too much hate for just being a teenage boy.


  2. Melanie (TBR and Beyond) says:

    I don’t have a strong opinion yet because I don’t know their work but in terms of how they look – I think they women look amazing and completely look the part. The men, we’ll see. Kaz does have the cheekbones but doesn’t look exactly how I pictured him. I am one of the Mal haters and the picture I saw of the actor, he was giving this douchebag f*ckboi kind of pose, so it seemed right on LOL I can’t wait to see how it all comes together. I’m curious to see who will play all the other characters – I hope this show is good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jess @ Jessticulates says:

      Hahaha I will always defend Mal – he’s not a favourite character by any means, but I think the poor kid gets more hate than he deserves. I’m only familiar with the actress playing Inej from one episode of Doctor Who, and other than that Ben Barnes is the only one I’m familiar with from the Narnia movies and that really bad Dorian Gray movie that came out a few years ago. I’m hoping I’ll like him more in this than I did in that movie! The Darkling is probably my least favourite character, though, so maybe that’ll work for me.


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