If y’all haven’t heard of Alchemy & Ink, then you should know that their quarterly box is not an easy triumph. I bought their winter box and absolutely loved it (seriously – I use the blanket from that box every day… or at least my cats do). When I decided to buy their July box, I was armed and ready for it… and the box sold out in four minutes.
No exaggeration – four minutes.
The box you see here is actually a second run – after she sold out so fast, Natalie decided to do a second restock, but the boxes would ship about a month later. Fine by me! I got my box in the second run and spent the next four months anticipating it. Oh, second run sold out in about an hour. That’s a great way to gauge quality, guys. When a box sells out this fast, you know people love the seller.
Now, as usual, I’m not a rep for Alchemy & Ink, though I do appreciate he quality of Natalie’s work and am happy to recommend her. I don’t get any benefit for promoting this box, and I paid for it with my own money.
The box theme this summer was “The Darkness Within”. Let’s see what’s inside!
In every Alchemy & Ink quarterly box, Natalie includes a drink recipe and a playlist. This quarter’s recipe is Meleski’s Blood Magic Manhattan, inspired by Prince Serefin Meleski from Wicked Saints. For myself, I don’t make a lot of cocktails at home, but I love this little feature of personalization and honestly this manhattan sounds pretty tasty. If you zoom in a smidge, you should be able to read it and try it at home. 🙂
The flip side of the recipe card is a Spotify playlist, which I’m happy to share with your guys – check it out and see what you think! For myself… *sigh* so Spotify hates me? It’s like Snapchat – I’m basically a dinosaur and these two services just don’t work well with me. And don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with it. I have an Apple Music subscription and I use Instagram and I’m perfectly happy. But this playlist wouldn’t work for me because it doesn’t like Safari and the app kept crashing and I don’t care lol. You guys tell me what you think! Even going to this page, I see that Tes Medovich has done a bunch of bookish playlists, so this seems like a good way to get lost in musical goodness.
The first real, physical item out of the box is a tin campfire mug. I’m actually not a huge fan of these. Tin mugs are great for aesthetic, but they get really hot when it comes to tea, and I’d rather use a water bottle for my water. Again, this is all personal choice. I like the design well enough and I think the little skull teabag logo is cute… but overall, this item wasn’t a win for me. I have it sitting on my desk at the moment with a few miscellaneous bits in it, but I’m not sure I’ll keep it.
This next item was my favorite in the box, because it smells so good. It’s a little bottle of scented oil that you can use as a massage oil, dab on as a perfume, or add to bah water and honestly, it just smells glorious. There’s hints of jasmine and primrose and it’s just generally very lovely and definitely sultry and wonderful and can you tell I liked how this smelled? This item is inspired by Mia Corvere from Nevernight.
Naturally, Natalie included an enamel pin. She has a few in her shop, so this is an expected item. Enamel pins are pretty popular at the moment, so you can pretty much expect to get one in any bookish subscription box. This quote is from A Darker Shade of Magic, and the pin is inspired by Holland Vosjik. I like this design well enough – I find it’s really reminiscent of Literary Emporium‘s designs, which I really like, so this fits in nicely with my collection.
I’m a bit torn on the neck item, which is a simple necklace inspired by the Darkling in Shadow and Bone. One one hand, I really like the simplicity of the pendant, which is a black metal rectangle about an inch long, stamped with “Cult of the Starless”. But I have never understood why the community loved this character so much – I thought he was an utterly unlikable character. As such, I’m not sure I’ll be wearing this necklace, but I do like the design and I think Darkling fans should like it.
The next item is a more general item, no fandom attached. It’s a lightweight magnet that reads “All my book boyfriends are villains”. While this isn’t actually true for me, magnets are always useful, so it’s on my fridge now! 🙂
The big item in this quarter’s box is a huge item – a fabric shower curtain inspired by The Wicked King by Holly Black. While Natalie was super excited about this item… it’s a miss for me on several points. While the design is lovely and fine, I’m never a fan of giant fabric items in book boxes (except blankets, which are eternally useful). Tapestries and shower curtains are items that take up a lot of space and I won’t use. While a shower curtain is an inherently useful item, my bathroom already has a theme and a plan and I’m not going to replace the curtain. I’m actually planning to donate this to a local thrift shop – hopefully it’ll go to a good home.
After the shower curtain, I sort of figured that was everything in the box (other than the candles) but NOPE. the next item out of the box is a pen, inspired by Moriarty from the Sherlock Holmes franchise. This was a really nice, heavyweight pen and pens are always useful. As far as pens go in book boxes, this is probably the nicest quality one I’ve ever received. The only one that beats is is the Ooly fountain pen… which I’ve actually gotten in a couple different boxes, but I really like it.
Practically a requirement in any bookish box, regardless of whether it’s book or candle-centric, is a bookmark. The one Natalie’s included here is a printed woodwork, double-sided.
The first side contains a quote from a piece of Harry Potter fan fiction called Unsphere the Stars. It’s pretty unconventional to find any items related to fanfiction in a box like this, and it’s still fairly controversial whether or not it’s well and good to write/enjoy/anything fan fiction… so I was a bit surprised to find a fanfic inspired item here. Natalie spent a little time defending this choice in her booklet, but regardless it’s her box and she can do what she wants :).
The second side of the bookmark has a quote from King of Scars. I haven’t read this book yet, and as I discussed in June, the Grishaverse isn’t my favorite. I don’t really care for this bookmark – not just because the two fandoms aren’t to my taste (I like Harry Potter, but haven’t read Unsphere the Stars and started it after getting the box and… no thanks) but because I don’t think it is good quality. I may be spoiled by the likes of Ink and Wonder Designs, but generally speaking, this one felt cheaper.
Alchemy & Ink is primarily a candle maker, so I knew there’s be a couple candles included. This quarter, Natalie’s chosen two 12oz. altar candles. The first is Niah, from Nevernight. These candles have wood wicks and smell lovely. The art is haunting and definitely seems correct for this style candle.
The second candle is inspired by Malachiasz, from Wicked Saints. Again, the art is perfect for the style of candle. Again, here’s an item I didn’t really like, but similar to the previous items, it’s not because there’s anything wrong with the candles. I prefer to have candles I can cap, because I find the aroma a little strong. I have dozens of candles and burn them regularly, but with these open air ones, I can smell them whenever I’m in the vicinity. They’re not super strong, but it was something I noticed and now it’s bothering me a bit.
A unique and interesting thing included in these boxes is a beautiful redesign and reprinting of classic literature. This quarter included Macbeth, by William Shakespeare. I’m actually thrilled by this – I love Shakespeare but all I’ve got is a giant compendium of all his sonnets and plays and it’s really unwieldy. I’ve been meaning to start buying the plays separately… so I love this Lady Macbeth edition and can’t wait to read it – it’s been years. If you’re unfamiliar with the play, here’s a blurb:
In 1603, James VI of Scotland ascended the English throne, becoming James I of England. London was alive with an interest in all things Scottish, and Shakespeare turned to Scottish history for material. He found a spectacle of violence and stories of traitors advised by witches and wizards, echoing James’s belief in a connection between treason and witchcraft.
In depicting a man who murders to become king, Macbeth teases us with huge questions. Is Macbeth tempted by fate, or by his or his wife’s ambition? Why does their success turn to ashes?
Like other plays, Macbeth speaks to each generation. Its story was once seen as that of a hero who commits an evil act and pays an enormous price. Recently, it has been applied to nations that overreach themselves and to modern alienation. The line is blurred between Macbeth’s evil and his opponents’ good, and there are new attitudes toward both witchcraft and gender.
That’s everything! The quarterly box included 11 physical items (not including the playlist/recipe) and nearly all of these were nice, high quality items. I genuinely appreciate the time and thought Natalie puts into her curation. While I preferred her Revolutions & Retellings box, this one was still well curated to the topic.
A small thing that I find disappointing is that there are so many fandoms with marvelous villains, and I would have liked to not see any repeats – both Wicked Saints and Nevernight have multiple items. Wicked Saints only has a drink recipe otherwise, but still? I’d like to see maximum variety. I know people love these fandoms, particularly Nevernight, so I’m sure major fans are going to be thrilled! Repeat fandoms is a constant annoyance to me, though, so I’m sure I sound like a broken record.
Overall, I still would fight to get one of Alchemy & Ink’s quarterly boxes. I think that personally I will be more picky about the themes – this box’s theme was probably not the best fit for me, but I really wanted another one of her boxes. 🙂 Next time I will be more choosy about whether it’s a good fit for me.
If you’re interested in trying for one of Natalie’s upcoming boxes, they’re usually $65 + shipping, which is a bit higher than the other boxes. I think that the items are high quality and that the price is worth it if you like all the items… you’re getting a steal. The candles go for somewhere around $20 each, the scented oil about $12… so there’s $32 in 3 items. Before investing, definitely check out some other unboxing and see if it’s a good fit for you! 🙂 And if it is…make sure you’re following @alchemyandink on social media so you know when the box is going to drop… and be ready to jump!
What was your favorite item in this box? The scented oil is my absolute favorite, hands down, and the book is always really nice to get in a candle box. Tell me your favorites in the comments!