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Remarkably Bright Creatures

"Exploring loss, loneliness, community and the revolving cycles of life, and taking in the miraculous intelligence of a giant octopus, this extraordinary debut is an enchanting original."

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LoveReading Says

LoveReading Says

Moving, heart-warmingly magical, and radiant with love, longing, and beautiful humour, Shelby Van Pelt’s Remarkably Bright Creatures is a truly remarkable debut.

“Tova is Sowell Bay Aquarium’s oldest employee. Each night, she mops the floors, wipes down the glass, and empties the trash bins.” Tova is also one of the most wonderful, memorable characters you could wish to meet in the pages of a novel, as is Marcellus, the super-intelligent giant Pacific octopus who’s desperately unhappy about being held captive in the aquarium, but still appreciates Tova’s kindnesses towards him. 

Miraculously, Marcellus is also able to deduce what happened to the eighteen-year-old son Tova lost to the sea over thirty years ago, and able to work out how to mend her heart: “As a general rule, I like holes. A hole at the top of my tank gives me freedom. But I do not like the hole in her heart. She only has one, not three, like me. Tova’s heart. I will do everything I can to help her fill it.”

As time runs out for Marcellus, and as Tova makes a huge decision about her own life, we feel the shifting tides of time and aching truths of the human heart as love and change shudder through Tova’s community. As Marcellus sagely observes: “Humans. For the most part, you are dull and blundering. But occasionally, you can be remarkably bright creatures.”

After reading this spellbindingly unique story, you’ll never look at octopi in the same light, and you’ll come away from it feeling thoroughly nourished, if not transformed.

Joanne Owen

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Reader Reviews

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Get this book! It is a marvellous modern-day fairy story.

What a magical and enchanting book! I loved it from the first page and was totally sold on it once I'd met Marcellus the amazingly clever and intuitive giant Pacific octopus. We all know what very intelligent and remarkable creatures octopuses are, so the feats accomplished by this captivating creature did not seem too farfetched at all. And when it turned out that Marcellus had a special relationship with Tova, the joint protagonist of the book, and was instrumental in turning her life around, I was completely swept away by the story. Part mystery, part human love and endurance, I read the book in one sitting, not wanting to leave the wonderful characters inhabiting the story. A wonderful modern-day fairy story.... Read Full Review

Elize Ferner

Every once in a while you come across a book that will stay in your heart long after you finish it. Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt is one of those books.

I. loved. this. book.

Remarkably Bright Creatures is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Tova is around seventy years old and leads a very simple life. She lives alone after her husband passed away Their only son disappeared 30 years ago, presumed dead. Tova never accepted the police assumption that he committed suicide. She passes her days by chatting with her Knitting group and cleaning at the aquarium. This has been uneventful until one day when Tova discovers the octopus goes on nightly walks and after rescuing him with a tangle of power cords she develops a strange connection to him.

Cameron is in his thirties, recently single and so homeless. He thinks he discovers who his father finally is and sets off to meet him. After buying a camper van he ends up in tova’s hometown.... Read Full Review

Reba Khatun

Unusual and whimsical, but thoroughly enjoyable.

Tova is a lonely window whose son went missing thirty years ago, and is now presumed dead. Since her husband died she has worked at the local aquarium, cleaning every evening. There she meets Marcellus and they become friends. Marcellus knows what happened to Tova's son and he has to find a way to tell her. That isn't very easy because Marcellus is an octopus!
It sounds unusual, and it is, but as you are reading, especially from Marcellus' perspective, it is all utterly believable! The characters are interesting and appealing and you don't even have to suspend belief to imagine the intelligence and behaviour of the octopus. It is all plausible. I really enjoyed the town setting and the wide variety of secondary characters who were all so well written.... Read Full Review

Sarah Mills