Subscription boxes. They’ve been a thing for a while now and you can find all manner of companies willing to ship you a box filled with mystery items every month, ranging from chocolate to underwear to outdoor gear. The geek market is well represented, with literally dozens of nerd and geek culture related subscription companies out there happy to part you from you hard-earned money every month. But, you might ask, what about horror fans? Is there a box out there to scratch that particular itch?
Well it turns out that there is! Say hello to The Abominable Book Club, a subscription box for the horror fan in your life. Since 2018 they’ve been sending out boxes of goodies on a monthly basis and you too can get involved. All you need to do is pick your poison – The “Full Guts” box or the “Bare Bones”, priced at £22.99 and £15.99 a month respectively, though they do also offer 3, 6 and 12 month options if you’d rather just pay up front. There’s also £3.95 to pay in P+P on top of that, taking your cost up to £26.94 or £19.94.
The Bare Bones box gives you the core experience: one new book, a secondhand book, and an indie magazine/e-book, along with a monthly ‘spookmark’ featuring a bookmark-sized short story by Owen, the co-creator of this enterprise (the other co-creator is a chap called Gavin). The Full Guts, for my money, is the proper all-round experience that you should go for. You get your three things to read and the spookmark, and on top of that there are snacks, things to drink, and even a cute little pin badge. Previous boxes have included things like Galaxy bars, boxes of biscuits, coffees, teas and herbal teas. I love the idea of it being this complete package. You get your new book to read as well as a hot drink and a snack to nibble on while you get stuck in.
That said, for those who don’t like hot drinks, or who can’t eat chocolate/wheat/etc, then you might consider it too much money or too much risk to pay for items you can’t use. It’s nice, then, that the Bare Bones option exists for those who just want to be surprised every month with some new items for the library.
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March’s box brought a plethora of items. The three books were a hardback copy of The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward, a paperback copy of Tender is the Flesh by Augustina Bazterrica, and a lovely little second hand paperback copy of The Dreams in the Witch House, a complilation of H.P. Lovecraft stories. Along with this was a lovely bar of hot-cross bun flavoured chocolate, a couple of herbal teas, a Lyons coffee bag (which was surprisingly nice!), a regular Tetleys teabag, and a sachet of rather nice Clipper hot chocolate. Capping things off was an adorable little pin badge with “Future Ghost” emblazoned on it.
The books are all fairly recent. The Last House on Needless Street was released in March 2021, and while Tender is the Flesh was first released in 2017 it’s taken it a while to reach an international audienc. Not much to say about the final book; are there horror fans out there who aren’t at least passingly familiar with Lovecraft and the influence he’s had on the horror genre? The books are a good mix of gothic horror, eldritch terror, and near-future dystopia, and with three items every month you’re pretty much guaranteed to like SOME of what you get if not all, but then that’s always the chance you take with these sorts of random item boxes.
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All in all, The Abominable Book Club seems like good value for money compared to some previous experiences I’ve had with other subscription box companies. The only caveat I have is that my box arrived with rather a nasty split down the back of it that’s no doubt been incurred in transit somewhere, but no items appear to have been lost as far as I can tell and there’s realistically only so much that the company can do about this. I’ve been happily surprised by the contents of my first box and will definitely be continuing my subscription with them.