Harlan Coben’s Shelter Season 1 Review – a trashy teen series led by a trio of likable teen stars

By Adam Lock
Published: August 18, 2023 (Last updated: September 12, 2023)
View all
2023 Prime Video series Harlan Cobens Shelter Season 1


Harlan Coben’s Shelter is another teen-centric mystery series that ticks off all of the genre’s most addictive traits. The show is brimming with outlandish storylines, plot twists, and an enticing central investigation. It is also highly cliched and entirely superficial, quickly succumbing to a repetitive formula as the many plot strands entangle and fall apart.

Here is our review of the 2023 Prime Video series Harlan Coben’s Shelter Season 1, which does not contain spoilers.

Prime Video is coming after Netflix in the streaming wars full throttle as they continue to poach some of Netflix’s most popular writers. Jenny Han (XO, Kitty), Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House), and now Harlan Coben (The Stranger) have all made the move from Netflix to Prime Video in recent years or happily flit between the two.

Harlan Coben, who is most famous for being a best-selling author before his move to TV, marks his Prime Video debut with this mystery thriller titled Harlan Coben’s Shelter, which is an adaptation of his own 2011 hit novel.

The series was developed with his daughter, the writer Charlotte Coben.

Harlan Coben’s Shelter Season 1 Review and Plot Summary

The Prime Video original series focuses on mild-mannered student Mickey Bolitar (Jaden Michael), a promising teenage basketball player. As the show begins, Mickey is seen grieving the passing of his father, who was killed in a horrific car crash.

After this traumatic event, Mickey moves back to New Jersey to live with his Aunt Shira (Constance Zimmer) while his own mother, Kitty, recovers in the hospital. He quickly adjusts to life in Kasselton, making friends at the local high school and interacting with their competitive basketball team.

Walking to and from school, Mickey feels an odd connection to a strange, haunted mansion in the local neighborhood. This creepy home belongs to a woman known simply as Bat Lady, Kasselton’s very own boogieman.

READ: Will there be a Harlan Coben’s Shelter Season 2?

Mickey is drawn to this building and soon meets with Bat Lady. Straight away, she tells him that his father is still alive.

At the same time, Mickey’s new friend and classmate, Ashley Kent, goes missing. Mickey investigates this peculiar disappearance with his new friends, the geeky outcasts Spoon (Adrian Greensmith) and Ema (Abby Corrigan).

They quickly uncover a horrifying, sinister underworld in this sleepy part of suburbia.

Is Harlan Coben’s Shelter Season 1 good or bad?

Harlan Coben’s Shelter is very much like the author’s previous TV show adaptations, it’s trashy and addictive on the surface, but it quickly becomes formulaic and gimmicky when you delve a little deeper. Yet despite all of its flaws and the many cliches on display, Prime Video is clearly onto a winner regardless.

The show benefits from its standout trio of likable leads, played by three impressive, up-and-coming actors. Mickey, Ema, and Spoon spearhead this production, investigating their friend’s dramatic disappearance with an infectious, charming sense of camaraderie.

This central storyline and this endearing friendship group have enough spark to keep the series moving forward at a steady pace, although the many subplots feel unnecessary in contrast.

As with Coben’s previous work, the show is teeming with shocking and outrageous plot twists by the barrel-full. It feels like episodic one-upmanship as each new installment tries to outdo the previous one with more absurd and messy interconnecting mysteries.

Is Harlan Coben’s Shelter Season 1 worth watching?

If you are accustomed to Coben’s style of storytelling and are happy to indulge in these crazy, outlandish subplots, then this might be the perfect binge-watch for you. But this over-the-top, skin-deep series won’t be for everyone.

It certainly feels like Prime Video has hit the jackpot, though, with this kooky, teen-orientated genre series that might be able to replace Stranger Things in the coming years.

What did you think of the 2023 Prime Video series Harlan Coben’s Shelter Season 1? Comment below.

More Stories

Amazon Prime Video, Streaming Service, TV, TV Reviews
View all