Once Upon a Book Club is a uniquely engaging book subscription box. Instead of just sending along books and bookish items, this monthly subscription box sends you one book and a series of individually wrapped packages, each with a numbered tag that corresponds to a page in the book. As you read and come across those pages, you'll open the packages and reveal items that relate to that moment in the story!
Once Upon a Book Club offers a young adult box geared towards readers 13+ and an adult box intended for readers 18+. Both are priced the same and feature newly released books. (According to the site, the books have been released within the last 3 months, unless otherwise noted.)
This is a review of the Adult box for 18+ ($34.99 per month + shipping).
My Subscription Addiction paid for this box. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
The Subscription Box: Once Upon a Book Club Adult Box
The Cost: $34.99 a month. There is also a 3-month prepay ($100.99), 6-month prepay ($199.00), and 12-month prepay ($390.00) subscription options.
ACTIVE DEAL: Save 10% off your first box!
The Products: Women's fiction with an aspirational bent, plus gifts related to the story.
Ships to: Worldwide
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!
There's a simple paper booklet inside the box. I like that this subscription hosts book "discussions" on their social media pages! There's also info about a giveaway on the back.
There's also a craft-along session this month! That's pretty cute.
Don't forget—if you open anything ahead of time, you'll ruin the fun of the box!
This quote print is on the back of the card.
The book this month is a historical fiction take on the story of the Cottingley fairies—a real-life turn-of-the-century hoax that captivated popular culture.
Book Summary on Amazon:
“The Cottingley Secret tells the tale of two girls who somehow convince the world that magic exists. An artful weaving of old legends with new realities, this tale invites the reader to wonder: could it be true?” — Kate Alcott, New York Times bestselling author of The Dressmaker
One of BookBub's Most-Anticipated Books of Summer 2017!
The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home turns the clock back one hundred years to a time when two young girls from Cottingley, Yorkshire, convinced the world that they had done the impossible and photographed fairies in their garden. Now, in her newest novel, international bestseller Hazel Gaynor reimagines their story.
1917… It was inexplicable, impossible, but it had to be true—didn’t it? When two young cousins, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright from Cottingley, England, claim to have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden, their parents are astonished. But when one of the great novelists of the time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, becomes convinced of the photographs’ authenticity, the girls become a national sensation, their discovery offering hope to those longing for something to believe in amid a world ravaged by war. Frances and Elsie will hide their secret for many decades. But Frances longs for the truth to be told.
One hundred years later… When Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript in her late grandfather’s bookshop she becomes fascinated by the story it tells of two young girls who mystified the world. But it is the discovery of an old photograph that leads her to realize how the fairy girls’ lives intertwine with hers, connecting past to present, and blurring her understanding of what is real and what is imagined. As she begins to understand why a nation once believed in fairies, can Olivia find a way to believe in herself?
The first item corresponds to page 9 in the book. I'll do my best not to give away any spoilers!
Letter and Key
Inside the envelope, there's an old-timey letter and a key. I won't go too much into the content nor context of the letter, but I like that it's tea-stained and delicately written. Along with the slightly rumpled envelope, it really does feel like a prop taken right from the story.
The key has a bit of heft to it—it's definitely metal. I think it's technically a bottle opener, too! I always love when the items in this box have a value beyond the immediate "wow" of seeing them.
Pink and Red Scrubber
In the book, one of the characters uses this scrubber on her muddy boots. I might use it in the kitchen, though I'll have to be tidy about it (sometimes wooden tools can get funky, especially if they're hanging out in dishwater). I like the colors, and the quality doesn't seem half bad.
Pillowcase and Flower Clip
This pillowcase is sized to fit a standard-sized throw pillow. The teal-blue and turquoise colors are really pretty, though the fabric isn't the nicest. (It feels a bit like a burlap, but I think the fiber might be synthetic.) The little artificial flower clip feels a little bit craft-store-ish, and the fact that it came out of the box sort of smooshed didn't help. In the right context, it could look cute though. The clip on it is a little too harsh to use directly on hair, but it could be cute clipped onto a hair tie.
The final gift is a framed photo. The photo is actually a reproduction of the famous Cottingley fairies image. (It's upside down, but that's it!) At first, I had assumed that this was it for this gift—just the image in the silver frame (which feels like something I might pick up at a discount store).
But later, when I went to replace the image in the frame, I found that there was more in store! In the book, the main character opens the frame to give the image a new home and finds some interesting items inside... I didn't expect that the same items would be inside this frame, too!
All that said, I'm kind of... meh... about the items that spilled out onto my lap. To be clear, they correspond beautifully with the book. But as I eluded to earlier, I feel kind of bad when the only value of the items I get from the moment of delight I get when I open them. If I was a younger reader, I could see this being a lot of fun—I'm the type who would've kept the trinkets as toys. As an adult reader, I'm kind of left going, "Okay, what do I do with this now?"Especially since a few strands of fake hair and torn up pictures aren't the easiest things to regift nor donate.
Verdict: Once Upon a Book Club is such an awesome concept, especially if you're someone who needs that extra encouragement to read. The books are always fun—they're never grim nor overly challenging—and I do really like the way the gifts engage me with the story. My only qualm with this subscription (this box included) is that the quality of the items is sort of so-so—the value here is truly in the experience, rather than the actual items. And the types of items that are sent along can end up being super specific to the book. I hate when items from subscription boxes just end up in the junk drawer, and that does tend to happen a lot with this one.
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? No. Sign up before the 14th of this month to receive the next month's box!
Coupon - Use code BOOKNERD to save 10% off your first box!
Value Breakdown: This box cost me $43.49 after shipping. If I subtract the retail value of the book from that amount, I'm left with $27.50. That means each of the four surprises had an average value of about $6.88. Most of these items seem like something I could pick up in a discount store, and I'm hesitant to say I'd drop $7.00 on any of these surprises. But, as I mentioned, the value of this box comes way more from the experience than the items themselves. If the experience is fun for you, the low value of the items might not be a big deal. But if you're looking for items of value beyond the experience, then this box might not be for you.
What do you think of the items in this Once Upon a Book Club box?