The Nocturnal Reader’s Box is a horror-themed monthly subscription service that includes two books, one new release and one previously released title. In addition to the books there are several gift items inspired by horror books and films. It is with a heavy heart that I say that this is my final unboxing for NRB because they are closing.
The theme for the June box was The End is Near! Why am I posting an unboxing for the June box in September you might be wondering, it’s a long and unfortunate story that has spanned all summer and is what led to NRB’s closure, announced this past week.
Since sometime in May the folks that run NRB have been running into a whole slew of issues that had significantly delayed processing and shipment of their monthly boxes. The flu, mental health, boxes getting damaged or forgotten by the shipping company, you name it. There have been regular updates from the owners, with emails and posts that swing between apologetic and angry. I finally got my box at the very end of August after a two month delay, so I was thankful to get some sign that they were working on catching up.
On some level I am trying to remain understanding of both sides. Folks pay for a service, so I don’t blame them for getting angry over not getting their boxes and dealing with poor responses. I’ll admit that for how much I loved this company I was less than impressed by the lack of customer service that I had received. I tried to give them time and not send a lot of messages, and when I did I remained respectful and understanding and was patient. I eventually had written an email and messaged two or three times on Facebook over the course of the summer and had not received a single response to any, which is really disheartening.
On the other end, I am sympathetic to everything that the owners have going on, it can be incredibly overwhelming and I genuinely believed they tried their best to fix things. I did receive my box, albeit two months late, and from what I’ve seen online they have been issuing refunds and trying to write regular email and social media updates. They are a small business, so road bumps like these are more clearly felt and the owners seem like nice folks going through a really tough time.
Things got out of hand with people accusing them of scamming people out of money, lying, and in general raising pitchforks and coming down on their family via every social media outlet. Honestly I’m not surprised that the owners decided that it was time to close up shop and it’s truly a shame.
Unfortunately I had forgotten to cancel my subscription, so I was charged for an August and September box that will no longer come and am now out $90. They opened claims up with PayPal so I am putting in a claim for a refund.
The Fireman T-Shirt
I’ve yet to read The Fireman but it is one of my planned reads as it has received a lot of praise, and I’ve found that I can’t go wrong with books by the King family. This design, though, is a miss for me. I am not a fan of white shirts and the design is just mediocre overall. The silver lettering with white on white makes it difficult to see the actual design, and when it comes to references on books I usually don’t like the title and author’s name spelled out so blatantly. It just isn’t very attractive.
The Last Man Sunglasses
I’m really sad that these sunglasses were so cheap, I wouldn’t mind a new pair of mirrored sunglasses but this pair has cheap plastic frames. Even worse, the pair that I got were damaged with a scratch on the lens that is very noticeable. To be perfectly honest, it isn’t even really worth it to request a replacement, especially with everything going on.
Positive Water Bottle
Another book I’ve yet to read but sounds like it could be interesting, Positive is another zombie survival novel with a unique concept. However the design on the bottle is really underwhelming, and the quality does not seem very good either. It’s cheap plastic and feels like it would not insulate heat or cold very well. It’ll be okay for a throwaway backup water bottle, but I already have nicer ones so this inclusion was a bust.
Little Heaven Enamel Pin
I always love the enamel pins that come in Nocturnal Boxes, and this one features the long walker from Nick Cutter’s Little Heaven. This is a really nice longer pin with two pins for the back and I was very happy to add it to my library bag.
Dead Sea Art Print
Easily the highlight of this box, the art prints are always great quality and the art itself is pretty eye catching. It’s one I’d be more than happy to frame and hang up on my wall. I had never heard of Dead Sea but zombies on a boat sounds exciting, so I ended up adding it to my to read list.
The Gathering Dark by Christopher Golden
This month’s new release is book four in an urban fantasy series and honestly I’m kind of not really that excited. While the accompanying note stated that they fell for the series and that it can be read as a standalone, I’ve never liked the concept of including random books in a series in things like book boxes. I’m also not really into urban fantasy at all, though maybe I’ll still give this book a shot eventually but it is definitely not high on my to read list.
The Gospel of Shadows enabled the Catholic Church to control all manner of supernatural beings for centuries. When the book was destroyed — and the ruling body of the Church with it — it enabled the Shadows, the vampires of legend, to learn the hidden truth of their triple nature: part human, part demonic, part divine.
But it also weakened the barriers that exist between the worlds, and now beings of pure evil are breaking through — creatures from other dimensions for which Hell is just a name.
Peter Octavian, once a powerful Shadow, now restored to humanity, is the only man with sufficient knowledge to stop them. Aided by a earthwitch, a vampire and a priest, and calling on the magical forces of mother nature herself, Octavian stands between the Earth and apocalypse, as entire cities are plunged into the abyss.
I Am Providence by Nick Mamatas
I had never heard of this book but it piques my interest. A horror murder mystery with Lovecraft themes sounds like it could be fun, of the two this is the more appealing inclusion by far.
For fans of legendary pulp author H. P. Lovecraft, there is nothing bigger than the annual Providence-based convention the Summer Tentacular. Horror writer Colleen Danzig doesn’t know what to expect when she arrives, but is unsettled to find that among the hob-knobbing between scholars and literary critics are a group of real freaks: book collectors looking for volumes bound in human skin, and true believers claiming the power to summon the Elder God Cthulhu, one of their idol’s most horrific fictional creations, before the weekend is out.
Colleen’s trip spirals into a nightmare when her roommate for the weekend, an obnoxious novelist known as Panossian, turns up dead, his face neatly removed. What’s more unsettling is that, in the aftermath of the murder, there is little concern among the convention goers. The Summer Tentacular continues uninterrupted, except by a few bumbling police.
Everyone at the convention is a possible suspect, but only Colleen seems to show any interest in solving the murder. So she delves deep into the darkness, where occult truths have been lurking since the beginning of time. A darkness where Panossian is waiting, spending a lot of time thinking about Colleen, narrating a new Lovecraftian tale that could very well spell her doom.
If I’m generous and bump up the cost of the items in the box because of the custom logo prints, the value comes up to an amount around the $70 range. Not bad for the price of the box, but considerably lower compared to previous boxes and the quality of the items is noticeably lower. I feel like because shirts are such a high priced item to include in a box that the other items in the box suffer for it and tend to be lower quality, which isn’t necessarily the best trade-off in my opinion.
Are these items I’d buy?
This is difficult to say, I like the print and the pin quite a bit. The designs are nice though they aren’t necessarily items I’d go out of my way to purchase. The shirt, water bottle, and sunglasses are a big pass for me. I’ll probably end up using the shirt as a pajama shirt only or give it to my boyfriend.
Would I order again?
If they weren’t closing shop and had managed to catch up, I might have considered it. This entire experience has left a bad taste in my mouth, though, and really I’ve been less impressed with the two boxes I’ve gotten this year compared to boxes in the past. I’m not sure if I would have ordered again or severed my ties with the company if they weren’t closing, so perhaps it is for the best for all involved that it’s all over now.
When I saw that this month’s box had an apocalyptic theme I was so excited, and I thought I knew what book it was but I guessed wrong! The actual contents of the box exasperated by the severe shipping delays made the June box extremely underwhelming. I didn’t feel that the items in the box really fit the theme and the designs were just logos, which are considerably less interesting and seemed lazy to me.
So what do you think about this whole ordeal?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments!