I received this as a Christmas gift, and was quite intrigued. I hadn’t actually heard the name Allan Kronzek before, but that might be down more to my general hermit lifestyle than a lack of profile on Allan’s part 🙂 It was nice to head into a book with literally no preconceptions aside from those supplied from the subtitle – The Impromptu Card Magic of Allan Kronzek. Everyone loves impromptu card magic, and I think that in this day and age, with so much card material being available, that new offerings have to bring more to the table, and tricks with a borrowed shuffled deck are always in demand.
Production wise, it’s published by Vanishing Inc, so that tells you that it’s a great quality item. It’s just bigger than A5, hardback, with a trendy strip slip cover, and the layout is clean and clear. Nice!
The introduction is interesting, it’s very brief but lays out Allan’s ‘vibe’ on performing magic, and it sets the tone for most of the material that follows. As a lot of Allan’s material is standard method with his unusual presentations, apologies for being vague in the review, but this is the kind of material where the presentation and effect are the thing that you don’t want to tip.
- Playing With The Jokers – this first trick was the one I read when I first opened the book, and there’s no problem with it, but for me, it felt at odds with the introduction. It’s a multi phase sandwich routine, technique heavy, and with what I’d say construction issues in terms of method (Any trick needing a 2nd from top change, to me, is just unfinished). That said, the spectators are more involved than usual, and I can see this being a good trick for certain performers.
- The Mirror – this is much more the kind of thing that I was expecting from the introduction, and whilst there’s nothing new in terms of method here, (or throughout the book, for that matter) the presentation is simply perfect. A bit of staging and an intriguing premise is Allan’s contribution here, and I can see this easily being the strongest trick you do in an evening, for casual performances with friends at a meal. ‘Everyone knows that mirrors reflect the real world. When I wave my hand, the guy in the mirror waves back. But suppose it’s the other way around? Maybe the guy in the mirror is waving – and it’s me waving back?…’ An amazing opening line and establishing premise.
- True Romance – the principle here has seen something of a resurgence (there’s some amazing applications in John Bannon’s Move Zero project) and Allan here applies a smooth presentation, making it the perfect trick to do for couples (that isn’t Anniversary Waltz). Recommended.
- Strange Attraction – Allan admits this is a shorter piece – the effect is over fast, and perhaps too fast for people to get overly involved. The theme is still good though, and if performing for 3 people (and ideally a couple and their matchmaker) this has merit.
- Buried Treasure – A virtual self worker that was totally new to me – I followed along with cards in hand, and fooled myself. A spectator finds their own selection, again with a lovely presentation that’s playful.
- Think of One – I was familiar with the Bannon version of this, AK-47, so it was cool to read the starting point. This doesn’t have a whimsical presentation, it’s very much just outlining the procedure, but then the trick is so fair that I think that’s all you need. It’s a borrowed, shuffled pack, and starts with a spectator genuinely thinking of any card, which you locate and reveal. Strong stuff, and I suspect this will fool even the magicians you show it to.
- Texting The Visitor – I’ve used Larry Jennings’s ‘The Visitor’ for years (I combine it with a Dave Campbell routine called Leap Frog, and it makes a great routine) and I think I’m literally the only magician I know who uses it, so seeing it here was refreshing. The handling is classic, the plot clean and clear, and Allan’s presentation about texting or tweeting feels modern, gets away from signing a card in a logical way, and will eventually leave you with a fascinating deck of cards. Highly recommended.
- Destiny, Chance and Free Will – This one didn’t leap out of the page at me when I read it, and to be honest, I only actually tried it out because I already had the prop required from a similar routine. In effect, a spectator chooses their card, shuffles it back into the pack, and then locates it with a ‘Coin of Destiny’. This is usually performed as a ‘middle’ trick (being neither strong enough for an opener or closer) but in performance, Allan’s presentation and structure really do add to the trick overall. Usually, the spectator doesn’t find their card, there’s a reveal (a gag payoff as well) and then the incorrect card changes, which plays as an afterthought. Allan’s restructure means that the spectator actually finds their own card, and the whole thing keeps a gag payoff without then ‘wasting’ the reveal at the end. This was like a weight lifting midget – much stronger than first anticipated. Highly recommended.
- Hypnotising Ben – Something of a bonus item, this doesn’t use cards at all, and instead is a lighthearted presentational bit for the $100 Bill Switch. I was shamed to discover that I don’t have the technique anymore, but this is a trick I’d do if I get it back up to scratch. It’s quirky, and the presentational silliness justifies folding the bill, which is the one part I’d always struggled to justify. Again, highly recommended for the light-hearted, casual performer.
Overall, a fascinating book, and a very welcome introduction to Allan’s work (for me at least) and a teacher of an important lesson – Don’t judge a book by its cover, or the first trick it contains.
Given the current trend of card magic books providing so much quantity (the new John Carey and Paul Gordon books, for example, include 60 – 70 tricks in) it will be interesting to see if this kind of book, providing more completed pieces and thought out analysis of the construction and presentation, proves equally successful. I hope so, then I’ll get to read more of Allan’s work in the future.