Audio Book Review: Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt, Narrated by Marin Ireland and Michael Urie

Filled with human decency, Remarkably Bright Creatures is Shelby Van Pelt’s “remarkably bright” debut novel. Add in terrific narration by Marin Ireland and Michael Urie, and you have a fantastic audio book.

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First, a quick summary of Remarkably Bright Creatures:

Tova Sullivan is the 70-something main character. She lost her husband a few years back, and lost her son an even longer time ago. Her son, Erik, has been missing and presumed dead for more than thirty years, and the circumstances of his death still puzzle and haunt Tova. She still grieves, but very privately.

Tova is a strong and industrious woman. Not one to spend her golden years wiling away the time, Tova works at the local aquarium, cleaning the facility after hours. It is here that she forms a bond with an octopus named Marcellus, who is the titular remarkably bright creature.

Part of the story is told from Marcellus’s perspective, and this smart octopus knows something about Erik’s death. He sets out to communicate his information to Tova and doesn’t let language be a barrier.

A parallel thread in the story involves Cameron, a likable but irresponsible 30-year-old who hasn’t quite gotten the hang of adulting. He has an unexpected link to Tova that is revealed as the story progresses. I won’t spoil the story for you by divulging the secret.

I really liked Remarkably Bright Creatures. As I said at the beginning of the review, it’s full of human (and octopus) decency. No twisted characters or shocking crimes – just people connecting in a very personal way and looking out for each other.

But the lack of suspense doesn’t mean the story is boring. In fact, it’s charming and engaging, full of great characters (especially the haughty octopus) and interesting and sometimes whimsical story lines. And the narration in the audio book is masterful. Marin Ireland, who has read for some of my favorite authors (Anthony Doerr, Amor Towles, Fredrik Backman), does a superior job narrating most of the novel, even pulling off a believable Scottish accent. And Michael Urie is perfection as the voice of Marcellus, adding just the right amount of arrogance and tenderness.

Thanks for recommending Remarkably Bright Creatures, Beth! It’s a good one!

If you’ve read Remarkably Bright Creatures, let me know your thoughts in the comments section!

6 thoughts on “Audio Book Review: Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt, Narrated by Marin Ireland and Michael Urie

  1. Oh, I’m so excited to hear about this book! Our son (adult) is totally into octopuses (octopi?), and I’ve been looking for a gift. This will be perfect. I’m going to listen, too – it sounds like a lovely audio book!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It was a wonderful book. A nice departure from what I normally read. I agree, the author does a great job keeping you engaged and really makes you love all of the characters, especially Marcellus!

    Liked by 1 person

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