• Alex Hui

BOOK REVIEW: The Illusioneer by Carlos Vaquera

Updated: May 14


Here is my in-depth written review of The Illusioneer by Carlos Vaquera. 


In order to give you the most thorough and informative review, I went through all items in this book with cards and coins in my hands. By actually doing all the routines myself, I hope I can give you the better idea of how the tricks feel like. 


As with many items on other books, sometimes some effects sound better on book or look greater in performance. Thus, I will try best to look at the items from different perspectives and give you the more accurate if not the whole pictures of the effects.


The content of my video and written videos are slightly different, so you may want to check out both for more information.


REVIEW PHILOSOPHY


Transparent information is important in any review. Therefore, when I review a product, I will give you the most honest opinion on every details of it. 


If the product is good, I say it out loud. At the same time, if there is bad about the product, I don’t hesitate to say it. 


My aim is to make a trust-worthy review which you can depend on. Helping my readers is my biggest goal with this review.


WHAT YOU GET


You get a 298-page 7”x 9.6" hardbound book with 321 clear illustrations (I literarily counted each one). 


The hardbound is not the traditional hardcover you may have. It has a cushion-type cover which is usually found in some kid books. 


I think it is my first magic book with this type of cover. It feels great in-hands and I really love it. 


QUALITY OF THE BOOK


The book has a very nice format and lots of beautiful illustration to guide you through the tricks.


The writing style is similar to Stephen Minch’s, which means explanation is down to details and very clear. 


Credit and full reference of moves are given (you even get the reference for Braue Add-On!). 

The book is divided in 3 main sessions: 1. Cards, 2. Coins, 3. Appendices (Move), with 8 theory articles distributed among them. 


The book is printed in acid-free paper. Book quality is top-notch in terms of material and design. 


One minor issue I found is, the first coin effect is put under the Card session in Table of Contents. Not a big issue but quite obvious.


HOW MANY TRICKS? WHAT ARE THEY? 


Number of ITEMS: 52

Number of Effects: 39

Number of Card tricks: 31

Number of Coin Tricks: 8

Number of Card Moves: 5

Number of Articles: 8

Number of Tricks Need Table: 25 

Number of Tricks Done in Hands: 14  


QUALITY OF THE TRICKS


The book includes a lot of classic plots, like The Collectors, Ace Assembly, Invisible Palm, Triumph. 


Some tricks are multi-phase while some are single-effect trick. For some plots like Triumph and Sandwich, there are more than 1 effect. For multi-phase effect, some are constructed in a way that it is almost perfect from start to finish. For some other effects, you will find phases linked in a less coherent ways. In this situation, you may want to take up the part that interest you. 


The construction of effects are economical in many cases, though I found some effects consists of too many display, convincers or sequence. Many effects comes with elegant handling which needs practice to make it smooth. But the good thing is, you can adapt the tricks with your own handlings. 


All of the effects do not come with presentation or script, that means you have to think about how to perform them effectively.  


In addition to the 5 moves explained in the Appendices session, there are about 22 moves (I counted, so the number may be different) explained within the tricks. They are gems! You will be highly rewarded if you put effort in practising those moves/subtleties.


Many of the effects need working surface, and some space to perform. It may not be too ideal for table hopping. 


How fooling are the tricks? It really depends on the sleight execution. The tricky thing about the effects is, if you could not perform it smoothly, it hardly fool the lay audience. There are many sleights which requite attention to details. This part maybe a big love-or-hate factor about this book.


RATING OF TRICKS


I usually rate a trick based on several factors: 

1. Practical of Effect

2. Effectiveness (how magical the effect is)

3. Creativity 


Sometimes, even I rate a trick (5/10), that doesn’t mean it is a bad trick. Maybe I just think the method is not particularly new or interesting. The effect may still be ok.


And even if an effect was very magical and creative in execution, I wouldn’t give high rating if it involves a lot of procedures or easy to mess up. This book comes with a few.


As a general guideline, a trick rated 7 or above is good. A rating of 9-10 guarantees a great trick (even if you don’t do it, it contains a lot of new things you can learn). 


I will try to give a reason if I rate an effect low score. I hope this will give you a better idea of my reasoning. 


H = In-hand, T = Need Table 


CARDS

The Queens’ Shadows 10☆ T

A Fine New Trick 9☆ T

Franco 8☆ T

Les Pensées 7☆ H

Every Which Way 8☆ H

Running Pack 9☆ T

Black Jack 8☆ T

A Hell of a Poker Game 10☆ T

Clones 10☆ T

Traveling Signatures 9☆ T

Weighted Cards 9☆ H

Cards to Pocket 6☆ T

Damask 6☆ T

The Queens’ Return 9☆ T

Indifferent–Aces–Queens Transposition 6☆ T

Countdown 7☆ T

Traveling Aces — Invisible Palming 8☆ T

Leading Ladies 8☆ T

Day and Night 7☆ T

Les Rouges et les Noires 9☆ T

Colloc-Ace-tion 5☆ T

Catch Collectors 10☆ H

Speedy Sandwich 7☆ H

Sandwich à Trois 9☆ H

Delayed Sandwich 8☆ H

The Takeover Card 8☆ T

Topsy-Turvy 7☆ H

Escorial 9☆ H

A Melody for Two Playing Cards 10☆ H

All Backs 7☆ H

The New Phoenix Has Arrived! 8☆ H


COINS

Jacks of All Trades 8☆ T

The Traveling Coin 8☆ H

Chiromancy 9☆ H

Coins through Table 7☆ T

Matrix — Premier 9☆ T

Matrix — Deuxième 9☆ T

Matrix — Troisième 9☆ T

Matrix — Quatrième 10☆ T


MOVES

My Fan Control 10☆ 

The All-Square Control 10☆

My Side Steal 8☆

The Amilkar Side Steal 10☆

My Add-On Moves 10☆


ARTICLES

On the Craftsman 7☆

On Naturalness 10☆

On Music 7☆

On the Expert Teacher 6☆

On Eight Tenets of Magic 9☆

On Stage Fright 10☆

On Creativity 10☆

On Practice 9☆


PROS ABOUT THE BOOK


  1. It is well written. Very easy to read.

  2. Most effects are solidly constructed.

  3. Very clear credit of tricks/moves. 

  4. A lot of nice moves/handling/subtleties to learn.

  5. Some articles are very inspiring.

  6. Can open flat when reading.

  7. Super high cost performance.


CONS ABOUT THE BOOK


  1. No presentational scripts at all. 

  2. Many effects need much time investment to make them work.

  3. Not for beginners or even intermediates.


FINAL VERDICT

'The Illusioneer’ is very high quality book that you will come back again and again. The materials are inspirational and will make the readers better performers. 


Though there are no self-working or semi-automatic tricks you can adopt immediately, many effects are worth studying and they are not meant to be ’tricks’.


Readers should treat this book as a stepping stone to elevate their performance. The book will reward you when you invest your time to practise the material.


Nothing in the book is pip dream and everything can be smooth as silk if the students pay enough attention to the smallest details. 


It should be on the shelf of every serious magicians. At the price of $40, this has my highest recommendation.


  • Book Quality: 10/10

  • Effectiveness of Tricks: 9/10 

  • Practical: 8/10 

  • Creativity: 8/10

  • Cost Performance: 11/10 

  • Final Score: 10/10


If you support my work on unbiased and honest review, I would appreciate your donation very much! It will help me to review more products and give you more insight about the magic products.




You are welcome to ask any question about the book. 


Thank you for reading this review.

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