Other Sellers on Amazon
Follow the Author
Remarkably Bright Creatures: A Novel Hardcover – May 3, 2022
Enhance your purchase
AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A Read With Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick!
NAMED A BEST BOOK OF SUMMER by: Chicago Tribune * The View * Southern Living * USA Today
“Remarkably Bright Creatures [is] an ultimately feel-good but deceptively sensitive debut. . . . Memorable and tender.” — Washington Post
For fans of A Man Called Ove, a charming, witty and compulsively readable exploration of friendship, reckoning, and hope that traces a widow's unlikely connection with a giant Pacific octopus
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.
Shelby Van Pelt’s debut novel is a gentle reminder that sometimes taking a hard look at the past can help uncover a future that once felt impossible.
Books with Buzz
Discover the latest buzz-worthy books, from mysteries and romance to humor and nonfiction. Explore more
“Remarkably Bright Creatures [is] an ultimately feel-good but deceptively sensitive debut about what it feels like to have love taken from you, only to find it again in the most unexpected places. . . . Memorable and tender.” — Washington Post
“A debut novel about a woman who befriends an octopus is a charming, warmhearted read.” — Kirkus Reviews
"A unique and luminous book." — Booklist (starred review)
“The best books about grief find a way to illuminate the darkness of loss, and Remarkably Bright Creatures offers a masterclass." — Marie Claire
“[B]rilliant upcoming novel about hope and reckoning." — Business Insider
“Infused with heartfelt humor, Van Pelt’s elegant portrait of a widowed woman who finds understanding and connection with a clever octopus is refreshingly, if surprisingly, relatable. Despite the unorthodox relationship at its core, the debut novel offers a wholly original meditation on grief and the bonds that keep us afloat.” — Elle
“As Van Pelt’s zippy, fun-to-follow prose engages at every turn, readers will find themselves rooting for the many characters, hoping that they’ll find whatever it is they seek. Each character is profoundly human, with flaws and eccentricities crafted with care. But what makes Van Pelt’s novel most charming and joyful is the tender friendship between species, and the ways Tova and Marcellus make each other ever more remarkable and bright.” — BookPage
“Remarkably Bright Creatures is the rarest of feats: a book that manages to be wry and wise, charming and surprising, and features one of the most intriguing and satisfying characters I’ve encountered in fiction in a very long time—Marcellus the Octopus. I don’t know how Shelby Van Pelt managed to make this uncommon tale sing so beautifully, but sing it does, and I defy you to put it down once you’ve started.” — Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, author of Good Company and The Nest
“Shelby Van Pelt has done the impossible. She’s created a perfect story with imperfect characters, that is so heartwarming, so mysterious, and so completely absorbing, you won’t be able to put it down because when you’re not reading this book you’ll be hugging it.”
— Jamie Ford, author of The Many Daughters of Afong Moy and The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
“Truly original and touching, Remarkably Bright Creatures is a story of family, community, and optimism in spite of darkness. Prepare to fall in love with a most exceptional octopus.” — Helen Hoang, author of The Heart Principle
“Remarkably Bright Creatures is a beautiful examination of how loneliness can be transformed, cracked open, with the slightest touch from another living thing. Shelby Van Pelt makes good on this wild conceit, somehow making me love a misanthropic octopus, but her writing is so finely tuned that it's a natural element of a larger story about family, about loss, and the electricity of something found.” — Kevin Wilson, author of Nothing to See Here
“ [B]eautiful novel about friendship and family.” — GoodHousekeeping.com
- Publisher : Ecco (May 3, 2022)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 368 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0063204150
- ISBN-13 : 978-0063204157
- Item Weight : 1.1 pounds
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.99 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #56 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviews with images
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
In addition to a great story, the book is beautifully laid out. The chapters where the octopus is narrating (trust me, they're great), have gorgeous design elements.
On the surface, this is a story of three people and one octopus making their way through grief and challenge and fear to find their path. We have Tova, who's had more grief than any one person should endure. Cameron, abandoned by his mother and never living up to anyone's expectations (not even his own). Ethan, attracted to Tova, but too hesitant to make a move. Marcellus, the octopus, determined to make the most of the little time he has left.
The story is set on the coast of Washington, north of Seattle. I appreciated the setting's treatment in the story because it was clear and important, but the author didn't hit you over the head with it. There was no showing off ("Look how much research I did about this place!"). That can be so annoying.
What I loved:
- The characters are developed. Ethan needed more backstory, but other than that the character development was terrific.
- The premise is unusual, but it works.
- The narrative shifts are easy to follow.
- The layout is lovely. I love a well-made book.
- The author resists easy solutions, and she leaves one story not completely resolved. This can be dangerous, but here it fits completely.
- There are strong life lessons and takeaways, but the author doesn't beat you over the head with them.
- The story moves apace. There's no lagging. There's also no rushing. It's well-paced.
- The solutions aren't easy and pat. There is a definite deux ex machina feel in a few of the story points, but I think that's to expected when there's an octopus afoot.
What I didn't love:
- Nothing worth mentioning. Well-crafted, well-designed, and well-executed, this book is a winner.
Overall, this is a great person read, and a great book club read.
This charming and heartwarming story is about an elderly widow, Tova, who keeps active with a job cleaning a public aquarium in a small coastal tourist town. There, alone in the evenings, she amuses herself by sharing her thoughts with the various sea creatures as they swim around taking no notice of her. All except one. Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus who is a keen observer of the people around him. His observations, expressed on the page in short chapters, are astute and correct. Tova is fascinated by him and he by her, though she can't explain why.
We'll eventually learn the reason why in a bit of magical storytelling that had me weeping with joy.
This lovely story is a cut above anything I've read in a very long time and you, too, I hope, will believe in Marcellus.
Top reviews from other countries
It’s like those books with a dog character - at some point you realise it’s not immortal and you will have to say goodbye.
This had a lovely goodbye different from what I expected. I will have a book hangover for some time as going to miss the wonderful characters who all felt like friends in this book.
I don’t want to give away any of the plot lines, suffice to say nothing was done in my house until I came to the end!! Happy reading.
The characters are fantastic & you are totally rooting for them especially Marcellus in particular. I loved every page of this book. Totally worth the buy!