Saturday, August 6, 2022

Book Review: Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt


After Tova Sullivan's husband died, she began working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, mopping floors and tidying up. Keeping busy has always helped her cope, which she's been doing since her eighteen-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat in Puget Sound over thirty years ago.

Tova becomes acquainted with curmudgeonly Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium. Marcellus knows more than anyone can imagine but wouldn't dream of lifting one of his eight arms for his human captors--until he forms a remarkable friendship with Tova.

Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova's son disappeared. And now Marcellus must use every trick his old invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it's too late.


Y'all my heart is bursting with love for this new book. So many feels on this one!

Remarkably Bright Creatures is about Tova Sullivan a 70-year-old woman who lost her son 30 years ago and recently lost her husband. She takes a job as a night shift cleaner at the Sowell Bay Aquarium so she will have something to do to keep her busy.

Tova forms a friendship with Marcellus, a giant pacific octopus who, when the book begins is on his 1299 day of captivity in the aquarium.

This is such a creative, heartfelt story with characters you will fall in love with. Tova is determined to carry on with her life despite her loss and enjoys her cleaning job at the aquarium, it helps pass a lot of would-be empty and lonely hours. Author Shelby Van Pelt did a wonderful job of installing sadness into Tova's character without making her depressing and miserable.

Marcellus the aging octopus steals the show in this story in my opinion. He gives Tova life and reason without speaking a word to her. I might have thought this interaction was a bit overdone, the book is fiction so..., but a few weeks ago I watched a Netflix documentary called My Octopus Teacher and it saw how highly intelligent these creatures are, and they are capable of forming attachments to humans. Marcus may not speak verbally to Tova but he gets his point across and in the book he does have a voice.

There is also Cameron, who is a bit lost in life and searching for a father that he never knew. He ends up at the aquarium working after a failed search led him to the area.

I don't want to go into any greater detail, but I will tell you that all the characters and the story will tug at your heart, but at the same time make you smile.

My Opinion...

I won't lie, I am a huge fan of aquariums. I love the ocean and any creatures that live there. An Aquarium has always been a place of joy for me, being able to see these magnificent creatures up close amazes me. When I finished Remarkably Bright Creatures it got me thinking, especially about Marcellus's POV in the story. It made me question keeping these creatures in captivity. For the first time, someone has given one of these creatures a voice and it has really made me think a bit differently about things.

Please read or listen to this book, it could be one of the best beach reads of your summer.

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