My Friend The Octopus by Lindsay Galvin

Publication Date: 2 June 2022

The Blurb

England, 1893, and aquarium fever is at its height.

Twelve-year-old Vinnie Fyfe works in the tea-shop at Brighton aquarium, and waits for her milliner mother to return from Paris.

The arrival of a giant octopus changes her life for ever. Discovering a talent for art, Vinnie begins to draw the extraordinary beast.

She soon realises she can communicate with the octopus through colour and – as a gripping mystery begins to unfold – discovers what true courage really means…

Cover and interior illustration by Gordy Wright

The Review

Having adored Darwin’s Dragons, I couldn’t wait to read Lindsay’s next book, and wow, what a book this is! Utterly gripping from the very first page, My Friend The Octopus is a compelling mystery that speeds you along with Vinnie as she searches for the truth. Carefully crafted characters, delicious description and a plot that moves at pace with short chapters combined to create a book that begs for one more chapter from beginning to end, and would make a superb class read.

From a sheltered life of relative luxury working with her mother, to a life of getting things done with her Aunt Bets, Vinnie cannot understand why she has been left behind while her mother journeys to Paris alone. There is real pleasure watching her make friendships and experience Victorian bathing machines and ice cream for the first time. She also comes to realise that the world she has grown up in is far from the realities of many children her age, who work in the same couture industry at a very different level.

Lindsay weaves mysteries together with ease while immersing us in some of the darker sides of Victorian society, one of which there are sadly all too real comparisons to make with modern day fast fashion – something which is bound to be a talking point beyond the book.

I adored discovering the mysterious new addition to the Aquarium with Vinnie, Charlie and Temitayo. This amazing creature from the deep is brought vividly to life through Vinnie’s drawings and newspaper articles. Every ability it has is something that octopuses really can do, which is bound to spark curiosity and further research from inquisitive readers. I would love to read more about Temitayo’s life and journey to live with Mrs Heap.

And finally, everyone needs an Aunt Bets in their life. My absolute favourite scene in the whole book happens in her kitchen and instantly transported me back to childhood afternoons with extended family cooking up a sweet feast before tucking in to the freshly baked delicacies.

Great for fans of:

  • The Elephant Thief by Jane Kerr
  • The Murderer’s Ape by Jakob Wegelius
  • Obsessive About Octopuses by Owen Davey

Huge thanks to Chicken House for sending me a copy and for inviting me to take part in the Blog Tour. Do make sure you check out all of the other stops.

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