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jessie mei li as alina, staring off into the distance Photo: Netflix

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First Shadow and Bone photos bring the Grishaverse to life

The YA adaptation hits Netflix in April

Petrana Radulovic is an entertainment reporter specializing in animation, fandom culture, theme parks, Disney, and young adult fantasy franchises.

The first photos of Shadow and Bone, Netflix’s adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s best-selling Grishaverse books, reveal the main cast in action — as well as a glimpse of the fantasy world.

“Think Imperial Russia, not Medieval England, repeating rifles instead of broadswords,” said Bardugo, who also serves as executive producer.

The first set of books centers on Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li), an orphaned mapmaker unaware of her own great power. The land of Ravka is torn in half by the Shadow Fold, a supernatural barrier of tangible darkness, which is slowly destroying the country’s economy and society. Alina, along with her best friend Mal (Archie Renaux), are members of a dispensable army that the Ravkan government sends through the Fold.

jessie mei li as alina, staring off into the distance Photo: Netflix
mal and alina hanging out Photo: David Appleby/Netflix
mal in a cool coat Photo: David Appleby/Netflix

After her powers manifest, Alina joins the ranks of the Grisha army — a force of magic-wielders led by the mysterious and incredibly powerful General Kerrigan (Ben Barnes, in what is truly the most perfect fan cast come to life).

ben barnes as the darkling Photo: Netflix

But the show isn’t just adapting the first trilogy: it’s also incorporating stories from the Crows duology, the spin-off heist books about a gang of criminals. Those books technically take place years after the main trilogy, so the full six-person gang isn’t assembled yet. Still, there’s the Crows leader Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter), his right-hand woman Inej Gafta (Amita Suman), and sharpshooter Jasper Fahey (Kit Young).

jaspar, inej, and kaz draped in shadows Photo: David Appleby/Netflix
inej looking intimidating and holding a knife
Inej, my queen
Photo: David Appleby/Netflix

Rounding out the cast are Grisha spy Nina Zelik (Danielle Galligan) and Fjerdan witch hunter Matthias Helvar (Calahan Skogman). Matthias comes from a Scandanavian-inspired country that fears the magic of Ravka. The two eventually join the Crows years down the line, but it looks like the show will explore their contentious first meeting.

nina and matthias in the snow Photo: Attila Szvacsek/Netflix

All eight episodes of Shadow and Bone will premiere on Netflix on April 23. Check out the cast posters below: