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Remarkably Bright Creatures

by Shelby van Pelt


Marcellus is old.  He’s wise, he’s grumpy, he’s wily, he’s manipulative, he’s astute, he’s an excellent reader of people and he lives in an aquarium.  Marcellus is a giant Pacific octopus and he’s a Remarkably Bright Creature! Bright enough to know that the life expectancy of an octopus is 1,460 days and he’s been alive for 1,299 already so he doesn’t have long to help his favourite human, Tova.

Tova began working the night shift as a cleaner at the Sowell Bay Aquarium after her husband died.  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 the Puget Sound over 30 years ago.

Marcellus thinks he knows what happened the night Tova’s son disappeared but how does he let her know before it’s too late?

Charming, compulsively readable, and full of wit, Shelby Van Pelt’s debut novel is a beautiful exploration of friendship, reckoning, and hope – a reminder that sometimes taking a hard look at the past can help uncover a future that once felt impossible.

An ultimately feel-good but deceptively sensitive debut… memorable and tender – Washington Post

Infused with heartfelt humour, 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

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

The best books about grief find a way to illuminate the darkness of loss, and Remarkably Bright Creatures offers a masterclass – Marie Claire

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