OwlCrate: September 2016 [Subscription Box Review]

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The theme of September’s OwlCrate was Darkness. As a whole, September’s box was my favourite out of the two boxes I have received thus far.[1] The fact that I class September’s box as a ‘favourite’ surprised me, as I loved the August OwlCrate so much that I was not expecting it to be beaten until a few boxes down the line at the very least. Perhaps, I was slightly biased in favour of this box due to my love of gothic/alternative scenes, including: clothing; accessories; makeup; music and lifestyle. The theme of September’s box most definitely connected to my above declared loves.

General House-Keeping:

In a nutshell, OwlCrate is a book subscription service that provides one hardback Young Adult (YA) book and 3-5 book related items to its subscribers each month. Each monthly box has a different theme whereby the YA book and related items usually unify to match the prescribed theme. For example, August’s theme was ‘Fast Times at YA High’, in which both the novel and bookish items centred around a high school setting. To view past OwlCrate themes, you can view them on their site (here). Payment options for subscribing to OwlCrate are discussed below.

There are three payment options. Payments can be set up in the following ways: month by month basis; three or six-monthly payments. The latter two payment options are ‘pre-paid’ style and the subscription payments will automatically renew at the end of the initial three or six-month period.

The cost of each subscription option is as follows: month to month basis is 29.99 USD (24.52 GBP);[2] every three months is 86.98 USD (71.13 GBP) and six-monthly will cost you 167.94 USD (137.33 GBP). The cost of shipping is not included in these prices. Instead shipping costs are added prior to the final checkout stage. This final stage addition is because OwlCrate has three different shipping rates and as such, each jurisdiction shipped to will incur different postal charges that can only be calculated after you have entered your postal address.

The three shipping rates are as follows: shipping within the USA is $6.99; shipping to Canada is $10.59 and international shipping is $19.99 (approx. £16.35 – expensive times!). For international shipping, not all countries receive tracking information after shipment. For full details of countries in which customers are provided with tracked shipping, check the list here.

The Box Itself:

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September’s OwlCrate gave subscribers the following items:

Novel, ‘Three Dark Crowns’ by Kendare Blake; Celaena’s Cake candle (The Melting Library); ‘Piss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ Canvas Pouch (Out of Print); Fortune Telling Bath Fizzer (Da Bomb); Exclusive Bookmark; Exclusive ‘Three Dark Crowns’ related goodies.

Each OwlCrate box includes a sneak peak of the following month’s box theme. The theme of October’s box is ‘Once Upon a Dream’.

As this is a book subscription box, I first discuss the YA book provided, followed by a discussion of my favourite items in chronological order (as I always do).

‘Three Dark Crowns’:

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 ‘Three dark queens are born in a glen, sweet little triplets will never be friends

Three dark sisters all fair to be seen, two to devour and one to be Queen’

The official synopsis for ‘Three Dark Crowns’ is as follows:

‘Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.’

Oh my! I do not know where to start a discussion of this book beyond a simple ‘I LOVED it!’. Seriously, ‘Three Dark Crowns’ has got it all. The book has relatable and likeable characters, suspense and plot twists, magic, the power to tug on emotions and the ability to frequently switch your allegiance between each of the queens. Although, overall Arsinoe was my favourite. ‘Three Dark Crowns’ is an easy and enjoyable read, especially if you are a fan edgily dark magical worlds, political plotting, suspense and twists.

I am chomping-at-the-bit for the sequel. Seriously.

Celaena’s Cake Candle:

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According to OwlCrate,[3] the candle was inspired by ‘Throne of Glass’ character Celaena. A quick bit of research on the ‘Throne of Glass’ series showed me the relevance of the candle in relation to the overall ‘Darkness’ theme of September’s OwlCrate. As the character referred to appears to be an assassin working against a dominant ‘Power’ from the inside.[4] I only gleamed bits from online reviews/discussions and as such, this is a seriously condensed version of my understanding. I am sure I will have missed intricate plot occurrences and undertones with my sparse search for knowledge. However, the purpose of my research was to understand the relevance of the candle in re the box’s theme. The cake element I do not understand and I would be appreciative if someone could enlighten me. 🙂 But I digress.

The candle itself smells amazing and as a candle fiend, I was not only very excited to receive it but I would love for the inclusion of candles to be a recurring theme. The candle alone made the box a personal favourite.

As the candle was made exclusively for OwlCrate, I cannot pinpoint a price. In addition, the prices for candles listed on The Melting Library’s website apply to candles of a larger size than the one I received. As such, I could not hazard a guess at a retail price. However, the larger sized candles retail for £11.88. I recommend purchasing one, as the scent provided by the one I received is simply delicious and fills the room with its long-lasting aroma. I will most definitely be placing an order for some of the larger candles!

Fortune Telling Bath Fizzer:

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I love the colours and concept behind this Da Bomb bath fizzer. The concept is as follows, Feeling wishy washy about your future? Ask a question, hold one of these fragrant fizzers under your bath water, and watch as your answer appears on a tiny, enclosed message.’

As a Lushie and someone who uses bath products as a means of therapy when in the midst of emotional chaos, feeling distressed or when some relaxing ‘me time’ is required, the inclusion of the bath bomb was prima facie an exciting addition. I say prima facie because ultimately my heart lies with Lush products. However, where I am directed to vegan/cruelty-free bath bombs from smaller companies I am always happy to try them out too. You can never have too many bath bombs. Although, it is not entirely clear from the Da Bomb website the extent to which their ‘cruelty-free’ products are actually cruelty-free.

In terms of matching the theme, OwlCrate state that the bath bomb reminded them of ‘the psychics from 300 Fox Way (from the Raven Cycle series)’. I had never heard of this series before, but the results of a quick online search suggests this particular bath bomb could be argued to fall within the Darkness theme. As 300 Fox Way seems to have an element of shadowy sadness.

The bath bomb retails for 7.50 USD (5.99 GBP), therefore costlier than a bath bomb from my beloved Lush. However, based on the fact that I adore bath products particularly as I use them in a therapeutic capacity the majority of the time, I really appreciate its inclusion within September’s box. As it is beautiful in appearance and matches the box’s theme (discussed above).

The pouch and other exclusive items created for OwlCrate are discussed below.

‘Piss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ Canvas Pouch:

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The pouch forms part of the ‘first official merchandise’[5] released for the ‘Piss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ movie. The fact that OwlCrate were able to include such an item is very cool.

The pouch itself is of high quality and durable material. For someone who has zero interest in the aforementioned film, I really like this pouch. It is not only well-made but it is large enough to store an A5 sized notebook. The pouch is made by Out of Print and retails for 12 USD (9.59 GBP).

Other Exclusives:

The final items included in September’s OwlCrate were: a signed book plate; exclusive fortune teller and a letter from Kendare (pictured above).

It is amazing that OwlCrate source and include such items that relate personally to the book. Whilst their value can only be analysed subjectively, for me, they increase the value of the box in terms of value for money. My favourite items in this category was the signed bookplate, which I promptly added to the book’s inner cover.

In Summary:

This month’s OwlCrate is my favourite out of the two I have received thus far. As I loved August’s crate so much, I did not think it possible for it to be beaten until a few boxes down the line. On the financial spectrum, the retail value of September’s OwlCrate items far outweighed the price paid for the box. This value is extended by the subjective value the box provides, discussed below.

As discussed in my first OwlCrate review, the price of international shipping is quite high and was the key contributory factor fuelling my reservations about subscribing to OwlCrate. However, despite these high charges, I am glad I opted to ‘bite the bullet’ and subscribe. As even when the cost of shipping is included, I believe the box provides excellent value for money. The value for money comes from both the available prices for the box’s items and subjective value of the other items, discussed above.

Those who have been reading my blog posts know I am a total sucker for an exclusive. In this respect, I want to say to OwlCrate, keep up the good work! 🙂

Do you subscribe to or are considering subscribing to OwlCrate? Have you read ‘Three Dark Crowns’? I welcome your thoughts on OwlCrate, the book discussed and this post in general.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to see more subscription box reviews, subscribe to this blog.

 

[1] For my first OwlCrate review, see here.

[2] British pound price is based on the current USD to GBP conversion rates

[3] As per the ‘spoilers’ not provided within the box.

[4] Thus, also connecting to the darkness theme

[5] OwlCrate spoiler card

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