Have you met Marcellus the octopus yet?
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'Full of heart and humour . . . I loved it.' Ruth Hogan
'Will stay with you for a long time.' Anstey Harris
'I defy you to put it down once you've started' Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
After Tova Sullivan's husband died, she began working the night cleaner shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium. Ever since her eighteen-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat over thirty years ago keeping busy has helped her cope. One night she meets Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium who sees everything, 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 body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it's too late...
Shelby Van Pelt's debut novel is a reminder that sometimes taking a hard look at the past can help uncover a future that once felt impossible.
'You won't be able to put it down because when you're not reading this book you'll be hugging it.' Jamie Ford
'Truly original and touching' Helen Hoang
'Unique and luminous' Booklist starred review
'I couldn't put it down'
'Marvelous, heartwarming, brilliant'
'I enjoyed every second'
'I was gripped from the first page'
'I was completely charmed by this story'
A cross-species friendship helps solve a pair of decades-old mysteries in Pelt's whimsical if far-fetched debut. After Tova Sullivan's husband dies, she takes a night job as janitor at an aquarium, where she enjoys talking to the sea creatures. She's particularly fond of Marcellus, a giant octopus who shies away from most human attention. But when Tova finds Marcellus out of his tank and helps him back to safety, he becomes fond of her. Meanwhile, Cameron Cassmore comes to town looking for his long-lost father and joins Tova on the night shift, disrupting her routine. However, the two soon realize that Cameron's mother, who disappeared after leaving him with an aunt when he was nine, and Tova's son, who died after falling off a boat decades earlier, might have known each other. Marcellus, who lived in the sea before his capture, is the only creature who knows for sure. Pelt imbues Tova, Cameron, and Marcellus with pathos, but her abrupt cycling between their perspectives can be disorienting, and her no-frills prose is ill-suited for the anthropomorphic conceit at the story's core. While the premise intrigues, this fantastical take on human-animal connection requires a bit too much suspended disbelief.