Monday 12 September 2022

Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt @shelbyvanpelt @BloomsburyBooks #RemarkablyBrightCreatures #BookReview


After Tova Sullivan's husband died, she began working the night cleaner shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium. Ever since her eighteen-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat over thirty years ago keeping busy has helped her cope. One night she meets Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium who sees everything, 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 body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it's too late...

Shelby Van Pelt's debut novel is a reminder that sometimes taking a hard look at the past can help uncover a future that once felt impossible.

Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt was published in paperback on 26 May 2022 by Bloomsbury. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

I have to admit that I was drawn to this book because of the octopus narration. I have a bit of a thing for anything octopus but would usually steer clear of any novel narrated by a non-human. So, I took this one on holiday to Malta and it was my final book of the week.

The story revolves around Tova Sullivan who cleans at the Sowell Bay Aquarium. Tova is lonely, her husband died not long ago and her only son died many many years ago. Tova's son Erik was just eighteen when he died and this tragedy has affected her entire life. 

Marcellus is a giant Pacific octopus who, when the story begins, is on day 1299 of capivity. He lives in a tank at the Aquarium and he tells his tale, knowing that he doesn't have much longer to live. 

It took me a little while to settle into this story, but once I'd determined who was who and got used to Marcellus' voice, I was hooked. Drawn into this tale of community, loneliness and relationships. There are many characters to get to know, and apart from Marcellous of course, my favourite of them all was Cameron. 

Cameron is a young man who just wants to find the father that he has never known. He's lived with his Aunt for many years, but has just discovered old photographs and school year books that belonged to his mother. From these, he thinks he's deduced who his father is, and this is how he finds himself in Sowell Bay. The friendship that builds between Cameron and Tova is really wonderful, two very different people draw the best out of each other, and only Marcellous can see the real truth. 

This is a charming, heart warming story that really captured my heart. I adored the characters and I loved the setting. It really was the perfect read to finish off my holiday. 

When Shelby Van Pelt isn’t feeding her flash-fiction addiction, she’s juggling cats while wrangling children. 

Her debut novel, REMARKABLY BRIGHT CREATURES, was be published  in May 2022. 

Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, she’s currently missing the mountains in the suburbs of Chicago. 

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