If someone is looking for a book box to subscribe to, there are three I immediately recommend: OwlCrate, FairyLoot, and Illumicrate. I feel like a lot of people are familiar with the first two, but Illumicrate is really undersung for the quality of box they provide, and I’m here to sing it some praises! I’ve always found their product quality to be really good, and their exclusive editions to be gorgeous. Beyond that, in my opinion, Illumicrate puts out the best special edition boxes… so if you’re interested in something like that, you need to check out Illumicrate.
This unboxing is not sponsored – I love this box and wanted to share it with you!
March’s theme was ADVENTURE AWAITS. Now, where I’m terrible at guessing the book from most boxes, Illumicrate makes it pretty easy. I won’t spoil it for you quite yet, but I knew as soon as the theme was announced that this was a book I wanted and I was SO EXCITED ABOUT IT. Besides, I’m always here for an adventure story.
Quick aside – the Illumicrate team was so excited about their May theme that they officially announced the book… and it’s Aurora Rising. I know a lot of people are REALLY excited about this novel, so if you want to get a piece of that, you may want to run over to their page. Illumicrate isn’t quite as big as OwlCrate and FairyLoot, so they don’t run out every month, so there’s probably still some available.
Can we just take a second to appreciate the art on the spoiler card? Most boxes do a portrait-based art design, and those are fine, but Illumicrate’s designs are text based and striking and really lovely, and it’s worth taking note of just because it’s different. Also, this is a little booklet instead of a spoiler card and just looks really nice. They take time to address every item with detail in their own space… and I like that.
The first item in this box was an Excalibur Water Bottle with artwork by Sarah Brown (@sarahandsweet). This item was immediately not for me. The artwork is… fine? Not particularly my favorite in this case, but what really blew it for me was the water bottle. I think that the overall design of he product is a bit… sloppy looking. The balance between the white bottle and the dark-colored design is terrible – it may have worked better on a black bottle, but even then…. Add to that I don’t like this kind of water bottle, and this item was a hard pass for me.
These pins! I was just talking about how there wasn’t enough Lord of the Rings mercy out there, and a couple days later, my Illumicrate came! These awesome pins come from Fable & Black… who are always quite excellent. If you like enamel pins, Illumicrate is always on point – they even have their own monthly pin subscription in collaboration with Fable & Black. I am a huge fan of this particular pack because the theme is “Beginning and End” and … there it is… from Bag End to Mount Doom and just… I love Lord of the Rings? This item was SUCH a win for me.
Mug rugs are one of those things that seem to come in a lot of boxes, but I’ve somehow managed to miss them all so far? And this is my third year of book boxes, so yay me? This one is inspired by The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue and was designed by Temporary Places. Prior to this, I was completely unfamiliar with this artist and now I’m definitely a fan of her work. It’s adorable and quite original. I wouldn’t want to get a lot of mug rugs, but I’m definitely going to hold on to this one.
When I started getting boxes, I was always a little bummed when they included socks, but I’ve come o appreciate having an interesting variety of socks and they’re now one of my preferred items. These socks are inspired by Mistborn and have the symbol of bronze. Design-wise, they’re not very interesting and I’m not crazy about them. BUT. Socks are a useful item and I’m always happy to get useful items.
A lovely pride bookmark was included in this box as well! This isn’t a special, commissioned item, but it’s so pretty, just wanted to share it. 🙂
A pair of lined notebooks inspired by The Raven Boys were also included in this box! While the line art by Bookmark’d Tattoos is nice, and notebooks are always a useful item, I’ve never been crazy about the notebooks Illumicrate includes. There always seems to be a notebook in this box, but they’re small and the binding isn’t to my taste. It’s never an item I’d paid for, so it’s disappointing when this ends up as a commissioned item. I’ll keep it because it’s useful and I like the design more than usual, but this item isn’t really for me.
I’ve yet to receive an Illumicrate box that didn’t include a sampler or two! While I’m not a sampler person (I don’t like teases!) I know a lot of people really enjoy these, so I think it’s a cool item for them to include for other people. This month it’s Do You Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh. Like I said, this item isn’t for me, as I don’t read samplers, but I appreciate Illumicrate supporting this less hyped book – it sounds really interesting. 🙂
Last but not least is the book of the month, and I am SO EXCITED for it.
I’ve had my eye on Once & Future since it was announced, and I love Amy Rose Capetta so I was so excited to hear about a KING ARTHUR RETELLING written by her and her partner. It’s just so so so up my alley. Plus it’s gender-swapped and LGBTQ+? I’ve already heard that the rep is amazing, too, and I’d expect no less.
I only have one little nitpick here. And that is… the exclusive edition. Don’t get me wrong – it’s GORGEOUS. I love the teal, and the printed hardcover, and the sprayed edges, and the fact that BOTH authors signed this one?! But I really loved the blue and pink of the original cover design, so I’d be lying if I said I like this one better. But I DO like this one.
So that’s that! What do you think about Illumicrate? I still really like this box and even though a couple of items were not great, I generally like it and think it’s more or less worth the money. The only thing that holds me back – and it’s the same with FairyLoot – is that as an international customer, it costs a bit extra in shipping that’s a bummer. But I’ll be getting the May box as well, so tune in come June for another peek!
Are you planning to read Once & Future? I have a particular soft spot for Arthurian legend, so I’m excited to see what this will hold! Let me know your favorite retellings in the comments! 🙂