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Book Rec: Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

Updated: Jul 6

“Humans. For the most part, you are dull and blundering. But occasionally, you can be remarkably bright creatures.”


I checked this book out no less than 3 times in the last 6 months before finally getting to sit down and read it. Having finished, I’m just sorry it took me so long to start! Remarkably Bright Creatures traces a widow’s unlikely connection to a giant Pacific octopus in her small town outside Seattle. Memorable and tender. I loved the narration by Marcellus (the octopus)!


Book Jacket

book jacket with a cartoon orange orcutue in a sea of coral

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.


Discussion Guide

  1. Each character’s need is intertwined with another’s. How does loss and grief bind them together?

  2. Marcellus is extremely smart, making Tova feel seen and understood. Have you ever encountered an animal that makes you feel the same?

  3. Tova, Ethan and Cameron are all faced with major choices in their life: they can continue down their current road or take a risk and open themselves up to new opportunities. Have you ever taken a leap like that?

  4. What do you think of Marcellus’ character? Do you think octopuses are more intelligent than we give them credit for?


If you liked this book, read The Mountain in the Sea, another great read featuring octopuses!


Some content may contain affiliate or referral links. As an Amazon Associate, I also earn from qualifying purchases. When you click on and/or make a purchase through an affiliate link placed on Lifetime Tidbits, I may receive a small commission or other form of compensation at no additional cost to you. Please see my Disclaimers Page for more information. Thank you for reading!

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