The Whimsical World of 'Remarkably Bright Creatures'

Article Contributed by Nicole Lise Feingold | Published on Saturday, March 30, 2024

“Sounds weird and it’s probably not my thing,” was my initial retort when told one of the narrators in Remarkably Bright Creatures is an octopus. Well, it is a little strange, but I was so wrong about this beautifully crafted novel not being my type of book. Thank goodness I didn’t listen to my inner voice and purchased Shelby Van Pelt’s debut page-turner.

The book is well-paced with a soap opera-ish style of the chapter’s shifting to an array of lively characters, keeping the reader enthralled. Marcellus, the octopus, is obviously the star! How can you not be captivated by an ingenious, naughty octopus who terrorizes his aquarium by night? Tova is a curmudgeon but becomes increasingly endearing as the story unfolds. I see myself in her as she gossips and snacks with her longtime girlfriends that dub themselves the Knit-Wits. Cameron is a disaster, messing up every opportunity. Yet, he is both likeable as well as relatable. Van Pelt creates multifaceted characters who tackle complex issues such as belonging, adapting, and managing fear, loneliness, grief and ultimately death. She imparts these critically important life lessons without boring the reader. In fact, she ensures the story remains whimsical.

This is my new favorite book! I cried when I finished. I will not ruin it for you, but my tears were for a multitude of reasons. Without divulging too much I simply didn’t want it to end and that says a lot! I have given this incredibly sweet read to both men and women, of differing backgrounds as well as ages and everyone loves it. I also said in my last review that music was not necessarily going to be an aspect of these articles. Well, and I acknowledge this is huge generality, but Deadhead stoners are going dig this read. I just can’t see how you couldn’t. It is magical, creative and a little bit out there. Like a good Dead show or track, Remarkably Bright Creatures made me forget the world around me, which right now is certainly a necessity.

Nicole lives in Los Angeles and is currently working on her first memoir. You can find her at and on Instagram @nicole_lise