We’re only months away from Leigh Bardugo’s brilliant Shadow and Bone series finally heading to the small screen. The Grishaverse trilogy introduced us to a vast world inspired by Russian folklore, encouraging further authors to derive new stories from Slavic tradition. If you can’t wait to watch the Shadow and Bone TV series, I’ve lined up eight books—all of which echo the tone, vision, and depth of lore of Bardugo’s bestselling series—to get you through the long months ahead.
Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan
In the mountains high above Kalyazin sits an unassuming and beautiful monastery. While the monks pray and train, they hide an incredible secret. One cleric, Nadya, can talk to the gods. Her talent places her at the center of a centuries-long holy war, rendering her the target of an army of blood mages. Nadya is forced to leave her sanctuary and make her own way through the battlefield with the most unexpected of allies. Filled with stunning landscapes, engaging lore, and an enemies-to-lovers plot for the ages, Wicked Saints is a dense epic about magic, sacrifice, love, and betrayal.
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
In the forests of Rus, the balance between the mortal and magical worlds is key to the survival of humans and spirits alike. But a golden-haired and silver-tongued priest desperate for adoration will do anything to gain power, at the expense of this harmony. Even if it means sacrificing a young girl. Luckily, young Vasya (of witch blood) has caught the eye of Morozko the winter demon, so she might not have to fight alone. The Bear and the Nightingale blends fairytales and contemporary fiction into a heady mix of mystery, witchcraft, and of course a hint of romance to warm you in the cold winter nights.
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
Miryem comes from a family of moneylenders. The only problem is that her father is terrible at their trade. The kindly man is generous to his fellow villagers and loath to call in their debts, which forces Miryem to take on the role in his stead. Her hardheartedness and talent with moneylending seems to be a blessing until her skill catches the eye of King of the Staryk, a magical race of ice-like creatures. Her new path takes her far from home and closer to unraveling a secret that could affect magical beings and humans alike. Very loosely inspired by the legend of Rumplestiltskin, Spinning Silver is a gorgeous fable that upends your expectations at every turn and showcases the brilliant talent of Naomi Novik.
The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Syke
Against the backdrop of ancient Russia, a desperate tsar sparks an ancient trial known as the Crown’s Game: a battle to the death between the region’s only two magic wielders. Whoever wins will become the tsar’s Imperial Enchanter, changing the future and face of Russia forever. But when the heir to the throne falls under the spell of an enigmatic enchantress, the rules of the game change and battlers Nikolai and Vika have to redefine who they trust and how they play. Romance, love triangles, magic, and murder make The Crown’s Game a noteworthy and addictive addition to this list.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
The beautiful hamlet of Dvernik is an idyllic one, except for the nefarious magical woods that surround it. Every ten years, a wizard known only as the Dragon comes to choose a bride in return for his protection against the strange and evil forest. When clumsy and lazy Agnieszka is chosen, everyone (including her) is shocked. Fate has its way, though, as Agnieszka and her best friend discover that together they might just be powerful enough for the battle ahead. But it’ll take a lot of practice, fury, and private magic lessons to get there.
Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter
All of our stories so far have been period pieces, set against the background of old magic. But Vassa in the Night takes the magic of old and throws it into modern Brooklyn. Vassa’s working class community lives a double life, surviving both gentrification and the magical Bab Yaggs who runs Vassa’s local convenience store and neighborhood with an iron fist. After a routine errand turns into something much more, Vassa must break open the curse on her community and eventually save the world.
Hunted by Meagan Spooner
Though the origins of Beauty and the Beast hail from French folklore, here Meagan Spooner crafts a frosty reimagining set in the icy forests of old Russia. Yeva’s family has long been ensconced in the beautiful palaces of the aristocracy, though she feels more connected to the forest. Thus, she isn’t too devastated when her father loses his fortune and place in high society and the family ends up back on the outskirts of the woods. However, when her father goes missing on the hunt for the Beast, Yeva finds herself on a mission to track him down, ditto the monster who has potentially taken him. This leads to the discovery of a fairytale world of broken castles, magical valleys, and a battle between good and evil.
The Ranger of Marzanna by Jon Skovron
In a world of demons, gods, and magic, two siblings are torn apart after the death of their father. Until her world was turned upside down, Sonya was training to be a Ranger of Marzanna, one of a near forgotten legion of heroes who used to protect the land ravaged by the Imperial Forces. Now she’ll turn those skills against those who hurt her in order to get her revenge and right the wrongs of the past. But it’ll be a battle that Sonya has to fight alone as her brother—who just happens to be the most powerful sorcerer in existence—is on the side of her enemies. The beginning of what looks to be a brilliant family saga, The Ranger of Marzanna is a slow burn fantasy epic with a dynamic, brave, and ferocious heroine.
Shadow and Bone will hit Netflix in late 2020.
Featured Image: Penguin Random House/Macmillan Publishers