Remarkably Bright Creatures
by Van Pelt, Shelby

After her husband dies, widow Tova Sullivan starts working at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, where she forms a special bond with a giant Pacific octopus who holds the key solving the mysterious disappearance of her 18-year-old son, Erik, over thirty years ago on the Puget Sound. 175,000 first printing.

*Starred Review* In the sleepy town of Sowell Bay, Washington, Tova Sullivan stands on the precipice of a new life. There's nothing left for her in her childhood home. Her husband is dead, and her son Erik drowned many years ago. With her grief threatening to consume her, Tova considers how she's going to move on while finding comfort in her job at the local aquarium. She's made friends with an intelligent octopus, Marcellus, who also provides his perspective on the matter. Especially adept at crawling out of his tank, Marcellus is searching for meaning as he comes to terms with the end of his own short life. Additionally, readers meet Cameron Cassmore, a Californian in Sowell Bay looking for his lost father, and Ethan Mack, a grocery-store owner who fancies Tova. As her involvement with both men deepens, Tova questions her intention to leave. Tova's gentle relationship with Marcellus is the heart of Van Pelt's debut. The octopus' point of view, though unusual, brings a magical haze to the novel, even as Tova and Marcellus realize their story is coming to an end. A unique and luminous book for fans of Eleanor Ray's The Missing Treasures of Amy Ashton (2021). Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.

A lonely woman discovers that sometimes humans don't have all the answers. Tova Sullivan's best friend is an octopus. A giant Pacific octopus named Marcellus, to be precise, and he is that-the novel opens with the first of several short chapters narrated in the first person (unlike the rest of the book) by the octopus himself, who can, as he points out, do many things we don't know he can do. What he can't do is escape from captivity in a small public aquarium in the fictional town of Sowell Bay, near Puget Sound. Tova, too, has lived in the town for most of her life, in a house built by her father. At age 70, she's stoic but lives with layers of grief. Her estranged brother has just died, with no reconciliation between them, and her beloved husband died a couple of years before from cancer. But the unsealable wound is the disappearance 30 years ago of her only child. Erik was an 18-year-old golden boy when he vanished, and the police, although they found no body, believe he killed himself. Tova does not. She fills her days with visits with her longtime friends, a group of gently eccentric women who call themselves the Knit-Wits, and fills her nights cleaning at the aquarium. There, she prides herself on keeping the glass and concrete scrupulously clean while chatting with the inhabitants, although she saves her deep conversations for Marcellus. Lately she's been concerned about the way he's been escaping from his tank and cruising through the other enclosures for live snacks-and sometimes visiting nearby rooms, which risks his life. Tova is too preoccupied to pay attention to the sweet but awkward flirting of Ethan, the Scotsman who runs the grocery store, but she does get drawn into the complicated life of a young man named Cameron who wanders into Sowell Bay. Although Tova and other characters are dealing with serious problems like loss, grief, and aging, Van Pelt maintains a light and often warmly humorous tone. Tova's quest to figure out what happened to Erik weaves her back into other people's lives-and occasionally into someone's tentacles. A debut novel about a woman who befriends an octopus is a charming, warmhearted read. Copyright Kirkus 2022 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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