Magic Book Review: Seventh Heaven by Lewis Jones

Lewis Jones Seventh HeavenI was first introduced to the work of Lewis Jones in Steve Beam’s Semi Automatic Card Tricks series. I’ve always enjoyed his thinking, so I was excited to begin reading Seventh Heaven. It didn’t disappoint. The book checks in at 377 pages. Most of the material is cards, but there is plenty of variety. The material consists of mostly easy-to-do items although some will require some mental work.

You won’t get very far into the reading before you realize that Lewis is first and foremost a problem solver. In the intro to most effects, he explains a bit about how and why the effect was created. Sometimes he will list which problems he set out to solve with a particular effect. Other times he’ll talk about the inspirations behind a trick and how he combined ideas to acheive something new. Getting a peek into his mind helps the reader to appreciate the subtle nuances to each effect that Lewis is bringing to the table. This is a treat.

The explanations are dense. In some cases, extremely dense. This isn’t a knock to the author; it just means that you will probably read this book at a slower pace than most magic books. The routines described beg to be read with cards in hand. There are illustrations throughout, but I wish there would have been more. Reading about precise finger placements can be arduous at times. There were a few cases where a single picture might have communicated the information more clearly.

While many of the effects are suitable for a beginner in magic, I’m not sure a novice magician could appreciate it. Lewis writes in a manner that assumes you are knowledgeable about the art. This is preferable since the book is already packed with material. Adding descriptions of well-known sleights would have just bogged it down.

This is certainly the kind of work that lends itself to multiple read-throughs. Like the Semi-Automatic Card Trick series, something new will catch your eye each time you open it up. I’ve read it cover to cover. Here are some of my favorite items from this first time through.

Mint Sauce– This is a version of Paul Curry’s “A Penny For Your Thoughts”. It’s sort of like those Max Maven tricks that used to be done through the television screen on old magic specials only it’s meant to be performed live. In short, a spectator lends the magician a bank note. The magician offers up 5 more objects: a coin, other bank notes, and an expensive watch, etc.

The spectator is given the choice of how to arrange the objects in a row. Then, the spectator reads a list of instructions that have been in view from the beginning. The steps in the list tell the spectator to switch items around (sometimes in a specific manner and sometimes at random). The steps also instruc the participant to hand objects at certain locations to the magician until only one item is left: of course, it is the least valuable object.

Randominium– This is a really neat coincidence effect using two decks (not completely necessary) In short, the spectator deals some cards to the table. These cards are redealt into two packets and one is eliminated. This sort of procuedure is repeated a couple of times until only a few cards remain. Finally, the top card of each pile is turned face up to make up the suit and value of a playing card. Of course, it is the one predicted by the magician. This routine uses a similar procedure to Daryl’s classic “Untouched” routine. However, the spectator seemingly has much more freedom in how they deal.

Set and Match– This is a version of John Bannon‘s “Discrepancy City Prediction”. In effect, the magician and three spectator’s each select a card at random. When the cards are turned over, they are revealed to be the four Queens. The routine can be done from a shuffled deck and the selection procedures seem very fair. Trust me, this is much more clever than this brief description can communicate.

Cornelian– An easy-to-do impossible location effect using two decks. Three spectators each cut off a packet of cards and hold them face down. Before each spectator looks at the card he cut to, the magician removes a card from the other deck as a prediction. After each spectator looks at the face card of his packet, he shuffles the cards to lose his selection. The magician looks through the shuffled packet and extracts one card. Not only did the magician find the right card, he predicted it in advance.

These are just a few of my favorite routines. There were plenty more that I didn’t mention. Overall, if you’re a fan of card magic, you’ll find some really interesting items in this book. Definitely recommended.

-Available for about $40 from Lewis’s website

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Boxed Set by John Guastaferro

John G MagicIf you’ve been a reader of this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of the work of John Guastaferro. In fact, while I may not have written a formal review of each of his products, have no problem recommending each and every one of them. I have them all, and they’re great.

John’s latest release is an instant download produced by Penguin Magic and Vanishing Inc. Two tricks for ten bucks; both are workers. First up is a handling of Paul Harris’ Reset. I’ve spent years working on the plot, and this version is among the most elegant I’ve seen. I’ll admit that I’m a bit married to my own handling for this venerable plot, but John’s solution certainly is a crowd pleaser. The routine is within the reach of the average card man. His clever use of the card box isolates the two packets and makes the clean up look ultra… well… clean.

The second routine, Ace Case, also makes use of the card box. The four Aces are lost in the deck. One by one they are located with the box playing an active role in each revelation. Cards penetrate the box, appear mysteriously on top of it, and travel magically inside. There is no setup, and again the handling isn’t difficult. I can see a lot guys using this.

You are treated to studio performances of both effects plus full explanations. The entire download runs about 25 minutes. As usual, John’s teaching is excellent. For ten bucks, you can’t go wrong. Highly recommended.

-Available for $10 from Vanishing Inc. Magic

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