Ownership: Subscribed on their 6 boxes option. If you are interested in purchasing an Illumicrate subscription, you can do it on their website.
Illumicrate is a book subscription box, it usually features fantasy and sci-fi but not exclusively young adult, sometimes it features adult too. It usually contains a new release, a pin and several bookish goodies.
Being someone who enjoys some dark academia books, this box sounded right up my street, but was it? Starting from the book on the left and going clockwise:
The Devil Makes Three, with a stunning cover and sprayed edges
First collectible teacup and saucer, this won my heart because the artwork is Mucha style, a goddess and it is about tea…
A reading journal, very fancy hardcover
Dark Academia page tabs to mark things int he book to your academic delight.
Monthly pin, which looks very interesting.
A Guid to Secret Societies ceramic book pot, which is quite pretty.
Academic and bookish washi tape to help with he reading journal.
Honestly if they had included a fountain pen and some tea, this would’ve been the perfect box, and so aesthetically and thematically pleasing. But even without those items it is a very good box and fighting for the spot of favourite box of the year from Illumicrate.
Content warnings: Rape, child abuse, substance abuse, various types of sexual abuse, murder, gaslighting, faecal matter consumption, heavy violence, gore, overdosing, death, suicide, blackmail, self-harm.
I like dark academia, I like magic, and this book sounded very interesting being setup in Yale. But I will start by saying that it is extremely slow burn and full of noise. It is also full of shock causing scenes that were unnecessary (there’s the rape of a 12 year old, and someone is made to eat shit, literally) and that could have been handled better.
The main story is about Alex, Galaxy Stern, going to Yale and finding that her ticket to Yale has conditions on her being able to see grays. Grays are basically ghosts. So she gets put into a society that oversees a few other societies that deal with differnet kinds of magic. The system sounds in theory really interesting and I ahve to say that the magic system was one of the most itneresting things in the story.
On top of that we have a murder mystery and the mystery of Alex’s past and why she ended up being found by the society. All of these should point to a really good intense book. And yet mostly it is a book that shows how ridiculous the society system for universities is in the US and that power is too tempting and therefore people will do anything for it.
I liked quite a bit of the story, including Dawes and Darlington and the actual reason behind the murder of Tara. That was well buitl and very intersting, alongside what happened to Darlington and what happened to Alex in the past. All came ot show what each character was made of, their motives, etc.
What I didn’t enjoy is that it was trying hard to glamourise Yale and the societies and at the same time you could see no love lost for it and it was slow and boring at times, which it then seemed to compensate by being too over the top on violence and abuse and the bad things. Like it was trying to show how bad things were but it started being a bit like “yeah, we get it, it is bad, can you just move on to the actual story instead of trying to shock me with this bit of violence?”.
I ended up warming to Alex, and to the story so at least that is good, and I will read the next one, but it was a little too hyped and trying too hard to be dark and gritty that it got itself lost in it and took a while to find the story and the heart of it.
So, I don’t recommend it overall, but if you like the components of it, and Leigh’s writing, then this may be the book for you, but you have to be warned it is dark and has a long list fo things for it to be triggers.