‘Harlan Coben’s Shelter’ series review: Safe, sweet thrills aplenty in this YA adaptation

With its likeable leads and breathless pace, tempered with warmth and wit, ‘Shelter’ is every bit as binge-able as Coben’s adult fare

Published - August 22, 2023 06:45 pm IST

Adrian Greensmith (Arthur “Spoon” Spindell), Jaden Michael (Mickey Bolitar), Abby Corrigan (Ema Winslow) in a still from ‘Harlan Coben’s Shelter’

Adrian Greensmith (Arthur “Spoon” Spindell), Jaden Michael (Mickey Bolitar), Abby Corrigan (Ema Winslow) in a still from ‘Harlan Coben’s Shelter’ | Photo Credit: Michael Parmelee

This adaptation of the first book of Harlan Coben’s YA series, Shelter, has all the twists and turns you expect from Coben without the gory, gruesome stuff.

Life was going well for 15-year-old Mickey Bolitar (Jaden Michael). After living all over the world with his parents, Brad (Kristoffer Polaha) and Kitty (Narci Regina), the family returns home to the US. A horrific accident finds a fatherless Mickey in the small town of Kasselton, New Jersey, staying with his aunt, Shira (Constance Zimmer), while Kitty battles depression as an inpatient.

Harlan Coben’s Shelter (English)
Creator: Harlan Coben
Cast: Jaden Michael, Constance Zimmer, Abby Corrigan, Sage Linder, Adrian Greensmith
Season: 1   
Episodes: 8 
Runtime: 45–57minutes 
Storyline: After losing his father in a car crash, Mickey moves to a small town that hides a bunch of secrets 

A grieving Mickey is further thrown off balance when the scary woman in town, Bat Lady (Tovah Feldshuh) living in a spooky house, calls him by name and tells him his father is not dead.

The first day of school proves to be a mixed bag with his uncle, Myron, a basketball legend, casting a huge shadow. On the plus side, Mickey meets the nerdy Spoon (Adrian Greensmith) and sarcastic Goth girl, Ema (Abby Corrigan).

Mickey forms an immediate connection with the new girl at school, Ashley (Samantha Bugliaro), who seems to reciprocate, which is why Mickey is stumped when Ashley drops out of school and does not respond to his calls or texts. Convinced that something bad has happened to Ashley, Mickey tries to get the school and grown-ups involved, who seem unconvinced and reluctant.

It is left to Mickey, Spoon and Ema to find out the truth behind Ashley’s disappearance. There are all sorts of other high-school dramas going on, including auditions for a staging of The Phantom of the Opera, directed by Kasselton’s very own movie star Angelica Wyatt (Stephanie March), jock Troy (Brian Altemus) and his dimwitted buddy Buck (Antonio Cipriano), giving Spoon and Ema grief.

Buck’s sister, Whitney (Alexa Mareka), is a social media star who might have feelings for Ema. Under all the posturing, Troy is insecure about his cheerleading captain girlfriend, Rachel (Sage Linder), who is spending too much time with Mickey for his liking, even though she assures him she is just helping Mickey find Ashley.

The grown-ups too have issues from the kindly teacher, Mrs Friedman (Didi Conn), feeling she did not do enough for Dylan Shakes, a little boy who disappeared 27 years ago, to Troy’s dad, police chief Taylor (Lee Aaron Rosen), taking his wife and Troy’s mum, Hannah (Missi Pyle), for granted.

There is also the story of a girl who saved children from the Nazis which has a resonance in Kasselton. There is no shortage of scary people in town from Octoface (Manuel Uriza), for the octopus tattooed on his face to Sunglasses Man (Hunter Emery).

With its likeable leads and breathless Harlan-Coben pace, tempered with warmth and wit, Shelter is every bit as bingeable as Coben’s adult fare.

Harlan Coben’s Shelter currently streams on Amazon Prime Video

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