Remarkably Bright Creatures: A Novel Audiobook


(496235 customer reviews)




Audio Length

11.25 hours

Release Date

May 2022


Unabridged Audiobook


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Remarkably Bright Creatures: A Novel Audiobook Description

Remarkably Bright Creatures is a beautiful examination of how loneliness can be transformed, cracked open, with the slightest touch from another living thing. — Kevin Wilson, author of Nothing to See Here 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 Sullivans 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 shes 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 wouldnt dream of lifting one of his eight arms for his human captorsuntil he forms a remarkable friendship with Tova. Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tovas son disappeared. And now Marcellus must use every trick his old invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before its too late. Shelby Van Pelts debut novel is a gentle reminder that sometimes taking a hard look at the past can help uncover a future that once felt impossible. Download and start listening now!

496235 reviews

496235 reviews for Remarkably Bright Creatures: A Novel Audiobook

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  1. Verified owner Nina

    This might be my favorite book this year, and will also be one of the best books I’ve ever read. Why did I love it so much?

    Let’s start with the writing. Every page was impressive. The prose was spot-on and there were so many sentences I wanted to underline or reread. The dialogues were saturated with meaning and humor. I have absolutely nothing negative to say about the writing style.

    Then we have the characters. The author has a real gift when it comes to creating real, complex characters. She crafted unique personalities where their choices fitted perfectly with their traits. Some authors struggles with getting into the head of characters, but this author managed to bring new people into my life and I got fond of them. I didn’t want to say goodbye to them.

    In addition to the humans, there was the most original and wonderful POV; the bright octopus. It was a delight to read those chapters. I actually cried after reading about the last thing he did for Tova and she for him. How many authors are able to make you cry because of an octopus?

    The plot was intricate and well-thought through. I was invested from the first to last page and found myself saying ‘No’ in horror when some of the misunderstandings threatened the happiness of my new fictional best friends. Sometimes I thought; why didn’t you realize that? But then the author described why based on the personality and history of the character and it made me realize how easily we can misjudge and act in a way that potentially harms us.

    I loved the ending although it was hard to say goodbye. I could have wandered around in their universe forever.

  2. Verified owner Helen Hoang

    Marcellus the octopus!!! *heart eyes forever*

    I don’t read a lot of literary fiction, but I was utterly charmed by this book. It was so creative and full of heart. I’d classify this as an extremely readable smart people book. Plus look at that gorgeous cover! Perfect for beach season.

  3. Verified owner MarilynW

    Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt
    Narrated by Marin Ireland and Michael Urie

    Seventy year old Tova Sullivan loves her job working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium. Doing this job helps her with the grief of losing her husband. There is another grief that has been with her for many decades, since her eighteen year old son died, his body never found.

    Tova loves cleaning the floors, windows, tanks, and the seal statue that was a favorite of her son when he was little. For Tova, this job is a life saver, a place for her to be, a place she is needed, welcomed, and cherished by the aquarium manager. And then something very special happens! Tova meets curmudgeonly Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium. She already knew Marcellus, just as she knew all the other aquarium creatures but she never KNEW him before she and Marcellus meet face to face in an amazing way. Thus begins a lifelong friendship between Tova and Marcellus. Lifelong considering the short length of life that Marcellus has left since he is at the end of his four year lifespan.

    There is another important person in this story and it’s thirty year old Cameron Cassmore, a man who has never really grown up or found his place in life. He’s never met his father and his mother abandoned him when he was nine. Cameron has a lot of growing up to do, having never held a job that he wasn’t fired from, having never learned to pick up his own socks, and having never been someone anyone could rely on. But he’s in Sowell Bay now, on the prowl to find out the secrets to his past, hoping what he finds will pay off, if possible.

    I loved this story, the people, Marcellus, and gray Cat. The audiobook narration could not be better. Marin Ireland does her usual wonderful job while Michael Urie IS Marcellus. He’s now a new favorite narrator of mine. I avoid animal stories because I usually can’t handle things happening to animals but this is a story about giving life to both animals and humans and that giving makes future loss bearable. Even if we can’t keep something forever, we don’t want to miss the chance of the time we can spend with those we can love and cherish.

  4. Verified owner Liz

    5 just go with it stars
    There have been lots of books between dogs and cats forming impressive bonds with humans. But this is the first that involves an octopus and a human. Marcellus is a giant Pacific octopus. And he’s nearing the end of his expected life span. Tova is the seventy year old woman that cleans the aquarium where Marcellus is a prisoner, as he sees it. She’s a widow and her 18 year old son went missing decades earlier.
    I had enjoyed watching My Octopus Teacher on Netflix earlier this year. And Van Pelt does an equally good job of showing the reader how smart octopuses are.
    The story weaves in other characters – a thirty year old still trying to find his footing and also the father he never knew, a transplanted Scot who runs the local deli and store. I found myself drawn to each and every one of them. This is a lovely heartwarming story. It deals with growing old alone, grief, growing up belatedly. It grabbed my heart. I loved the magic realism of this story.
    Both narrators do a great job. This made for a delightful audio experience. Michael Urle was superb as Marcellus. Marin Ireland always does a great job and this time is no exception.

  5. Verified owner Debbie

    4.5, rounded up

    I want suction marks on MY arm!

    You don’t give me a huge, wise old octopus and then have him take a back seat. Well, toward the end of the book, he (our octopus named Marcellus) gets more airtime, but at the beginning I’d say his presence is a tease.

    My favorite things were the suction marks that Marcellus made when he wrapped his tentacles around an arm of Tova, a 70-year-old janitor at an aquarium. I was jealous! Branded by an octopus, hot diggety! I know, most people wouldn’t like having suction marks all over their arm—the big purple dots would probably look like hickies. And what is an old lady doing with a bunch of hickies on her arm anyway? (Forget that fantasy, please!) But I pictured the marks as perfectly round polka dots, a beautiful and unique henna design. Tattoos to love! (I’m also assuming they didn’t hurt, of course.) No one would every guess they were suction marks made by a friendly octopus. We see lots of secrets in our lit, but come on, has anyone ever had to keep THAT kind of secret?! Imagine her spilling the beans when someone asked her what the hell those bruises on her arm were. “Oh, an octopus was wrapped around my arm for a bit. No biggie.”

    This is the story of Tova the janitor and Marcellus the octopus, both old-timers. Don’t worry, we don’t have a talking octopus here (he and Tova don’t have conversations)—that would have been a turnoff for me. Instead, we get to hear Marcellus’s clever thoughts as he observes the humans around him. He’s a wise creature who occasionally escapes his tank in search of food treats. He’s funny and smart. (In real life, octopuses are smart—a cool fact that had me running to Google to learn more.) Oh, and Marcellus is curmudgeonly—but yet he’s also very helpful. Putting tape over my mouth because I don’t want to give anything away.

    The story is also about a guy named Cameron, who is searching for his dad. The chapters alternate between him, Tova, and Marcellus. I loved Marcellus’s chapters the best. His observations about humans are a riot (like, why do they call him a “smart cookie”?). His chapters are short and I always wanted more; it was a jolt to move to a realistic story all of the sudden and it was always a slight comedown.

    Oh, the realistic story is well done, don’t get me wrong. I loved both Tova and Cameron—both sympathetic and well-drawn. The writing is good. The plot is interesting and fast moving, but there is one huge coincidence that you have to buy into. I overlooked that the situation was unlikely because I liked the book so much. Also, the ending is a little too tight for my liking, but then again, it’s heartwarming. Who doesn’t want a feel-good ending these days?

    It didn’t hurt that the book is set in my hood, a town near Seattle. I had to laugh—Tova doesn’t like to drive on freeways anymore. And she had to head to Bellingham, a (real) town two hours away. I’m the same age and I won’t drive on freeways anymore, either—and a friend moving to Bellingham was a disaster for me because I couldn’t drive to visit her. I loved that little similarity—funny that it was the very same town! Although Tova and I had age and a fear of freeways in common, I did not identify with her need to clean. But I can definitely see myself liking an octopus like she did.

    I realize that I like more edge, which I thought I would get, of course, with an octopus as a main character. The deal is, it’s realistic fiction with a dab of magical realism. It sort of reminds me of Kevin Wilson’s Nothing to See Here, which I loved. In Wilson’s book, we have a realistic story line, but it also happens to have kids who explode. Here, we also have a realistic story line, but it’s an octopus that’s the weird part. Marcellus reminds me a little of cool Charlotte the spider in the kids’ book, Charlotte’s Web.

    I loved this book—and its bright cover—and I’ll be checking out the author’s next offering. This is a strong debut! And of course, I’ll be reading more about those smart-cookie octopuses!

  6. Verified owner Melissa (Semi-hiatus through August)

    Absolutely adored this book in all of its sappy, coincidence-ridden glory.

    Listened to the audiobook narrated by the stellar Marin Ireland with a bit of help from Michael Urie as Marcellus (the Giant Pacific Octopus). If you have a choice, the audiobook is a fantastic way to experience this lovely, heartwarming book.

    Tova is a seventy year old widow who lost her son many years ago and spends her nights cleaning the local aquarium. Marcellus is an octopus nearing the end of his life. He is a Remarkably Bright Creature. One night he and Tova forge a bond. Cameron is a wayward young man floating from job to job and lamenting that his mother abandoned him when he was young and never told him who his father was. When he finds a clue that leads to a man in Washington state, Cameron leaves California to go confront him.

    This book contains one of my absolute favorite themes–found family. And one could even include Marcellus in that mix because although his role in the story isn’t very large, it is certainly impactful. As I mentioned, there are a plethora of coincidences in this novel, so you’ll have to set that aside to enjoy the simple beauty of the tale if those types of things bother you. Cameron has a LOT of growing up to do, which he does through the course of the novel.

    This is overall a sweet, feel-good tale that will be sure to bring a smile to your face.

    I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

  7. Verified owner Cheri

    This story begins 1,299 days after Marcellus was captured, after he’d been taken from his home and robbed of his freedom, and left in this small space, surrounded by glass walls. He’s fed, and observed through the glass that surrounds him by various people throughout the days, but he longs to return to his home. To be free. Periodically he manages somehow to escape, but is always found by Tova, who makes sure the boss isn’t aware of how often she finds him .

    Tova began working there after her husband died, preferring to share her time with those who don’t ask a lot of questions, and so she and Marcellus develop a kind of silent bond. Tova shares some stories, but Marcellus can also see the sadness that weighs her down, and so periodically he will leave her small tokens. While he manages to, periodically, stray beyond his glass walls that are meant to keep him from straying, Tova’s fondness for him grows. Her affection for him grows, as does his for her.

    This is a love story, but not your typical one.

    A new employee joins the ranks, a young man, Cameron Cassmore, who has recently arrived in search of a father he never knew, and a mother who disappeared from his life when he was young. He’s not really qualified for much, employment-wise, and so it’s up to Tova to make sure he knows what the job entails. Cameron thinks he’s there just as a maintenance worker, but he’s surprised when there’s much more to this job than mopping floors. There’s Marcellus. And Marcellus is full of surprises.

    Have I mentioned that Marcellus is a giant octopus?

    This is a book that is touted as being for fans of A Man Called Ove , and I can see that, but for me, this reminded me more of Kevin Wilson’s ’Nothing to See Here’ – in the best way. The quirkiness, the unexpected twists and turns, and the somewhat bizarre premise that managed to completely pull me in despite how outside the box this unfolded. Filled with a quirky unconventional charm, I’ll be smiling every time I think of this story. A story that embraces the idea of love and connection across borders in every sense, and a story of family lost and found.

  8. Verified owner Marilyn

    Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt was one of those books that stays with you way after you have finished reading it. I listened to the audiobook that was brilliantly performed by Marin Ireland and Michael Uris. It was A Read With Jenna Today Show Book Club pick for May. The premise for the book centered around a lonely widow, a young man searching for answers and an old Pacific Northwest octopus that was perceptive, clever and intriguing. The means by which Shelby Van Pelt brought these three lives together was ingenious. It was difficult for me to remember at times that Remarkably Bright Creatures was her debut novel because in my opinion it was just so good. The characters were endearing and I felt myself rooting for them. All my emotions were triggered while I listened to this audiobook. I laughed out loud, smiled and cried real tears. It was one of those books that I did not want to end. Oh, and did I mention the beautiful cover? What a cover!

    Tova Sullivan, employed by the local aquarium in the small town of Sowell Bay in the state of Washington as the night cleaner, was a lonely woman. She was a widow who had lost her husband to cancer and a mother who had lost her only son, Erik, when he was eighteen years old in a boating accident that was deemed a suicide. It was about thirty years ago now that Erik had died. Tova never believed that Erik would have taken his own life. To take her mind off of her losses, Tova, mindlessly but proficiently mopped the floors of the aquarium and conversed with its inhabitants and made sure they were well and thriving. Tova unexpectedly made the acquaintance of the aquarium’s only but extraordinary old Pacific Northwest octopus named Marcellus. The octopus was old as well. It had lived in the captivity of the aquarium almost its entire life and Marcellus was nearing the end of his own life. He was old for an octopus. Tova befriended the octopus and Marcellus and Tova developed the most beautiful yet unexpected friendship.

    The plot was further enhanced with the arrival of a young man in search of his biological father who he believed lived in Sowell Bay. His mother had abandoned him when he was nine years old and he never saw or heard from her again. That did not stop him, though, from wondering about her or who his father might be. When he discovered some things his mother had left behind, he told his aunt that he was going to try and figure out who his father might be. He ended up in Sowell Bay. A Scottish grocer befriended him and allowed the young man to park his trailer on his property. The grocer helped him by making sure he had plenty of food to eat and gave him advise about how to find a job and they both slowly became an important part of each other’s lives.

    Remarkably Bright Creatures was about loss, hope, loneliness, old age, friendship, trust, family and community. It was most original, funny and heartwarming. This book touched me in a way that I have not felt in a long while. I really enjoyed listening to the audiobook of Remakably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt and I highly recommend it. I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

  9. Verified owner Diane Barnes

    I was doing great with my resolution to read more from my physical shelves and stop being distracted by new fiction at the library, until 3 books I’d had on my hold list for months finally came available, and of course, all at the same time. I had 2 weeks because you can’t renew books with a waiting list. So, I made a plan. I started with the one I was least sure about, and after a couple of chapters decided it wasn’t worth my time. Then I moved on to “Horse”, by Geraldine Brooks. It proved to live up to its reputation and more, so that used up a few more days. I had saved this book for last, figuring that I needed something lighter, and a quick read before my due date deadline.

    I was right. It was lighter, and read quickly because I was so involved with these characters and so worried about what they were doing, especially, Marcellus, the octopus. What a guy he was! There were numerous plot twists in an already intricate plot, but the author never dropped a thread or left any holes. Everything fit and came together without my cynicism kicking in to cry foul. I find that very surprising in a first novel. I knew every inch of that aquarium, and Tova’s house, and the Shopright grocery store. I could feel the icy water of Puget sound, and drive the streets of Sowell Bay. By all means, read the book description on GR and the book jacket, but be advised that that is the tip of the iceberg, this novel will have you believing that there is good in the world.

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

  10. Verified owner L.A.

    What a fun, heart filled story! Brings back the memories of Free Willy in captivity, but this remarkably bright creature is a giant Pacific octopus, Marcellus, held at the Sowell Bay Acquarium. Warming our hearts with his wit, sarcastic view of humans and unbelievable wisdom. He longs to be free and counts the days of his captivity. When all lights are out and workers have left the building, he does a Houdini from his aquarium each night to find more food…better quality than what they feed him. He climbs back in with a full stomach and a record time of 18 minutes before he expires. With only a life span of 4 years, this octopus is nearing his end, but longs to help solve a mystery for a friend. Beyond belief, he befriends a 70 year old custodian Tova, the only human to interact with him daily.

    Tova experiences life as a widow and displays a heart wrenching loss of her son 30 years ago when he was only 18 years old. Eric was last seen in a boat leaving near Puget Sound and no evidence was found of his whereabouts. Through her POV, you feel the dread of entering an empty home and day by day acceptance of living alone.

    Told in a 3 person point of view, Cameron is hired to help at the aquarium and Tova takes him under her training. He was raised by his aunt after his mom walked out on him when he was younger. Unable to sustain a job or a girlfriend, he feels unaccepted by society’s standards. This unlikely trio creates a bond that will melt your heart and help solve the mystery of Tova’s son. A story of love, loss, grief, friendship and healing and a remarkable bond between animals and humans. There is a brush with sadness through the eyes of a wild creature’s captivity.
    Incredible writing that will bring you to tears and laughter in one setting and this is her debut novel!

  11. Verified owner Karen

    Do not underestimate the brilliance of octopuses.

    Or of this author who has chosen to provide a sense of magical realism into this story.

    There was something smart in the unfolding of this tale.

    What does a caged octopus in an aquarium, a lonely 70-year-old widow and a young man have in common?

    As readers, we will soon find out as we find ourselves completely engaged in this delightful story told from three points of view – one being the octopus. Yes, you heard me.

    And you will never guess who is considered the remarkably bright creature!

    This book is engaging, joyful, tearful, sweet, healing, and serious, as well.

    Be prepared to fall in love.

  12. Verified owner Danielle

    This book ticked all my boxes- fantastic characters that you truly want to know more about, great setting descriptions, heartfelt storyline that gives you that “I can’t put this down” feeling! 😍 This is the type of book that you could finish in one day, but don’t, because you want to savor every moment. ❤️ This book!! Ahhhh!!! 🥰 I loved all the little connections. Definitely one of my favorites so far this year!! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️!!!!

  13. Verified owner Ceecee

    4.5 rounded up

    Marcellus McSquiddles is the remarkably bright creature, a captive 60lb giant Pacific Octopus at the Sowell Bay Aquarium. He escapes his tank as much as he can and as this is day 1299 in his captivity he knows his time is running out, his lifespan being four years or 1460 days. Tuva Sullivan is a septuagenarian cleaner at the aquarium, a job she’s done to perfection since her husband died. Over 30 years ago, Tova‘s 18-year-old son, Erik mysteriously vanishes in the Puget Sound. Finally, there is Cameron Cassmore, a young man who comes to the area seeking the father he has never known. Oh, sorry, Ethan (Mac), the transplanted Scot, who runs the local shop, how could I forget you?!

    This is a really wonderful, creative, suspend your disbelief novel that will both warm your heart but also give you a lump or two in your throat. It’s character driven and, huge cheer, they’re all really likeable! I absolutely love Marcellus, he’s funny, witty, so clever, well, he has got nine brains after all, so perceptive (just go with it) and he’s all heart with three of those. Tova is wonderful too and the conversations and interactions with Marcellus are some of the best sections in the book. The contrast with careworn young Cameron works so well too but this place works its magic on this young man. All the characters are very well portrayed, they feel authentic with issues that we can all relate to.

    The setting is fantastic and it’s a part of the United States I’ve always wanted to go to and this book makes it go even higher on my bucket list! The small community of Sowell Bay is conveyed extremely well.

    This is a must read, exceptional book. It’s full of emotion, giving you tears and smiles. It also makes you reflect especially upon the thorny issue of animals in captivity. Highly recommended

    With thanks to NetGalley and especially to Bloomsbury Publishing plc for the much appreciated arc in return for an honest review.

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