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Simon Shaw, Suffolk, England
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Ignis Fatuus, by Zach Allen
$20, (less than £11) from http://www.zachallen.blogspot.com/

I’ve been reading a lot of e-books recently and I think with this one I have found a real gem. This manuscript is huge. It contains 72 pages packed full of a wide range of effects, sleights and flourishes all of which (as far as I know) are original.

To break it down there are 10 Card effects, 2 Mind reading, 5 Money related and 14 under the general classification of oddities.

All in all this is for me an absolutely awesome collection at an extremely reasonable price. In fact I have to wonder why Mr. Allen didn’t produce this in two volumes. In my opinion this manuscript is excellent value for money.

In my experience the quality of e-book design ranges from the down right awful, to the very professional, and this one falls somewhere in the middle. There’s nothing wrong with it although maybe the font size was a little large for my liking, but then I’m sure others would have complained if it had been any smaller.

Where necessary there are more than adequate photographs to illustrate any points being made, and I found the text clear and easy to follow. A lot of work went into the production of this manuscript and it shows.

It begins with a prelude and a short essay. Even the prelude includes an interesting subtlety for “Torn and Restored” tricks, and I found the essay quite charming.

Before I go any further I’d just like to apologise for the length of this review. Hopefully you won’t be put off. I suggest you grab yourself a cup of coffee and make yourself very comfortable.

Ready? Then I will begin. Smile

Part 1. Card Effects

1. Yin and Yang (Story Deck Trick)
This is “Story Deck” effect and you either love them or you hate them. Unlike with Bill Malone explaining “Sam the Bellhop” you’ll have to supply your own false shuffles and false cuts, but then for most this shouldn’t be a problem.

The story itself is very dark, and contains a few nice little twists that make it well worth considering over similar effects.

2. Dealing with the Devil (False Deal)
This is a false deal similar to Lennart Green's “Snap Deal”. It basically allows the card being dealt to be easily placed into a palming position so that it can be stolen back. I’m not familiar with Lennart Green’s “Snap Deal” so I can’t compare them, but Zach Allens version is definitely doable.

3. Allen Spin (Flourish)
This is a flourish that can be used as a card production or a card spin. Personally I’m not convinced on the usefulness of the Card Spin, but the Card production is quite nice way of producing a card from a classic palm position.

4.VisiTriumph (Triumph Trick)
Basically this is a “Triumph” effect that uses a gimmicked deck. A gimmicked deck that you have to make up your self. There will definitely be many purists out there who will shudder at doing a Triumph trick with such a deck, but then equally there will be many who will appreciate the extra very visual phase that this version offers, where the cards can be spread to clearly show a mix of face up and face down cards.

In my opinion, if Zach Allen made up some of these decks and marketed it with his instructions he could easily be selling by itself as a single stand alone effect. Not only that it would probably sell for more than the $20 of this manuscript.

For those who don’t already know, “Triumph” is an effect whereby half a deck of face up cards are shuffled into the other half of face down cards. The trick ends when all the cards can be seen to have righted themselves, with the exception of a previously selected card, which remains the wrong way around.

5. TrainStop (Colour Change)
I like this one. I like it a lot. The effect is that by merely rubbing a playing card you can move one of the pips up and down its face. The idea came from Jay Sankay’s “Locomotion” effect, but can be without the use of gimmicked cards.

A simple trick, but very effective.

6. Vanish 3D (Object Vanish)
This is not particularly a card trick, but I love it just the same. In my mind it has considerable potential, not so much as a stand alone trick, but as part of any trick where a small object is vanished.
You take a 3D object (such as a ring), and lean a card up against it, shielding it from view. You then wave your hand over the card and it drops flat on the table showing that the object has been clearly and cleanly vanished.

The beauty now is to come up with inventive ways of how and where the object is to reappear. I have been using a “Marvellous Brass Box”, which is one of those wonderfully crafted little okito style boxes that take about a minute and a half for the spectator to unscrew.

In my opinion this is another effect that may have easily have been marketed separately.

7.The Death Switch (Card Switch)
This is a pure joy to use. It’s simple and it works. It works very well.
The effect is that a card is freely (no force) selected from a deck. The selected card is places on the close up mat, which is then lifted to show that underneath the mat the magician made a prediction. The prediction card will match the one that the spectator chose.
The only downside is that it does require you and you audience to be seated, but if you find yourself in that position it works very well.
Incidentally, credit was also given to Sweden’s El Duco who it would seem independently came up with a similar trick. Well done to Zach Allen for doing the research, and giving credit where it was due.

8. New Best Friends (A Collectors Routine)
This is a variation of Roy Walton’s “Collector” routine. The effect is as follows.
First the four aces are removed from the deck. Three spectators then independently select a card from the remainder off the deck and place the selected three cards in a separate pile. The aces are then placed face up on top of the face down deck and then cut into the middle. The cards can be clearly spread at this point to show the four aces in the middle of the deck.
After this, one by one, the three selected spectator’s cards are replaced back into the deck face down (well away from the face up aces).

The deck is then squared up, and with a quick magic riffle the cards are spread again to show all of the aces interspersed with the three spectator’s cards. The finish is very clean, and everything can be examined.

I’ll be honest with you with this one in that I haven’t yet mastered it, but the ending is so magical that I will keep practicing until I get all the moves down pat. I should mention here that I am not (as much as I would like to be) the greatest cardician in the world, and so the fact that I haven’t mastered it yet reflects on me more than the trick itself.
I know there are numerous other versions of this trick, but I feel what Mr. Allen adds to it makes the first phase both easier and stronger (It’s the second phase I am having problems with!). Be aware tough, it does require another gimmick to be made up.

This is incidentally another trick that could have very easily been sold with the gimmick as a stand alone effect.

9. Slo-Mo (Colour Change)
I found this to be a very nice and very visual “colour change” effect. It can be done very slowly, and I have had some great reactions with it. It’s simple and yet very effective.

10. SCISP. (Signed Card in Spectators pocket).
This is really quite remarkable, and frankly it has probably never been thought of before as it just sounds too ludicrous for words. Basically with a few very simple sleights (and one heck of a lot of bottle), you actually get the spectator to unknowingly load a signed card into their own pocket. And you know what? It works.
There is also a nice alternative method whereby you do the loading yourself, but if you have the guts to go through with Mr. Allen’s method then you are going to get a truly fantastic reaction. I am tempted to even mutter the words “Reputation Maker”.

Part 2 – Mind Reading Effects (With Cards).

1. Psych 101
This is a very “Derren Brownish” way to make the spectator name the card that you have already made a prediction for.

It consists of doing two other simple routines first, that hopefully will have preloaded the mental image of the card you wish to be forced into the spectators mind. With the right wording there’s no reason why this shouldn’t work a treat.

The first routine is a basic “two in the hand, one in the pocket” routine – you know the one normally done with sponge balls.

The second is a simple coin production routine.

The other nice thing about this particular routine is that there are a couple of good suggestions for “outs”, so it’s a great way for practicing this type of effect without any real pressure.

.2. Raising Hell.

The Effect. The spectator thinks of a card. The magician out-jogs a card out of the deck. The spectator names their card, and the deck is lowered to reveal that it is the same as the one out-jogged.

This is a gimmicked version of Ray Kosby’s “Raise-Rise” trick, which I have to confess I have never seen, so I can’t make a comparison. But it is relatively easy to do and I have already had a few very good reactions with this.

Part 3 – Money Effects.

1. Heads, Tails, Gone. (Coin Vanish)
This is not so much a trick, rather than a couple of good idea for a multiple coin vanish with a really strong convincer. Don’t get me wrong it comes supplied with a nice routine, it’s just that the ideas can be used independently for other tricks as well.
I do have some reservations about using the gimmick for the first part of this trick, but until I make one up myself I won’t know for sure. If it does work though, I can honestly say it will be a little stroke of genius.

2. Crossing the Line
The premise of this “impromptu” little trick is that a Quarter from one State is examined by the spectator, and by the time the magician has finished explaining about taking everyone on a trip, the Quarter has changed to that of another State.

For obviously reasons this trick isn’t going to play very well in the UK, however I feel it still highlights Zach Allen’s ability to take even the simplest of tricks and turn them into something a little special.

3. Three (Sleight)
This is a move that can be used to transfer a coin during a 3-Fly routine. It’s very invisible and the hands never touch.

4. The Visual Tenkai Vanish
The Effect: The coin on the palm of your hand is given a shake and it visibly vanishes.
Ok. I have a long way to go with coins yet, I’m even worse with coins than I am with cards, and this even in Mr. Allen’s opinion is a difficult move, but like a lot of coin magic, when done perfectly this would appear nothing short of a pure magic miracle.

5. Poke
This is a good one. It’s a two phase routine whereby a pencil visually penetrates through a bank note. No gimmicks required. The second phase is very reminiscent of Timothy Wenk’s “Misled” illusion.

I found this interesting as I was discussing magic with a friend the other day, and he mentioned that after a Magic show had been on Television the previous night he was asked if he could do the pen thru bank note trick. Not having any of the normal gimmicks available he had to decline, well if he had known about “Poke” he could easily have borrowed both note and pen and made a stab (pun intended) at the trick.

Part 4 – Miscellaneous Efefcts.

1. Card of Mystery

2. Ham and Rye (A Sandwich routine?)
Well, to call this a Sandwich routine is a little bizarre, as it actually uses a real sandwich. It’s more of a joke effect that could go down quite well when being performed at your local Magic Society, or at least to other magicians, but probably not an awful lot of point above that. It did make me smile though, so was well worth being included.

3. Re-Light (Pyrokinetics)
This is a novel little trick, that makes you wonder why it hasn’t been done before. The effect is that you light a match, blow it out, and using your pyrokinetic skills you reignite it. Very visual and yet so simple. I love it.

4. BLiMP (Matches)
This is a Bare-handed LIt Match Production. Not much more to be said really. The nice thing is that it can be done at any point through out your set, so it could be easily used if there is a lull in the performance in a similar way that Bill Malone coughs up Cards.

5. Bluff Find
The effect. A bold (and very cheeky) method for finding a spectators Card.
This is an interesting one. Possibly more of an “out” for a trick that has gone wrong rather than an out and out stand alone trick. However, it reminded me a little of Bill Malone’s “I should have done it myself” Trick (On the Loose Vol 1), whereby the spectator’s card ends up being stuck on the back of your hand. (I trick I unfortunately have problems with due to my hirsute nature Smile ).

6. Mark of the Devil
The effect. A spectator picks a card and returns it. You draw a pentagram in blue marker on the back of your hand. The spectator deals cards one at a time onto your palm. At one point, you gasp, and turn over your hand. The pentagram has changed to a bloody red. The last card dealt to is turned over, and it is the spectator's card.
I must confess I’m not aware of the gimmicks needed to make this one work, but in many ways that could mean that they aren’t readily available in England, and consequentially could make it a stronger trick if performed here (or it could just mean that I am the only one that doesn’t know!) I don’t think it will ever be the strongest trick in the world, but could easily fit very nicely into an “occult/voodoo” based set.

7. Rock Through Window
HHhmmmm. You throw a small rock or stone at a window, and it penetrates without breaking the window.
I’m not so sure about this one as being anything but a way to possibly impress friends or family. Apart from anything else it would appear to involve too much effort to set it up for not the strongest of returns.

After saying that though, if you pick the right time, it could be quite a fun thing to try, and regardless of what I think of it, I’m still glad it was included in the manuscript, as it highlights Zach Allen’s off the wall thinking. (Off the wall? Rock? Oh please yourselves!)

8. Case Over
The spectator names a card, and a number between 1 and 52, and when the cards are tipped out of a box, that is exactly where their card appears in the deck.
Well wouldn’t that be just a perfect miracle?
Unfortunately this one has problems for me, however I have already mentioned that this could be due to my lack of card skills so I won’t dismiss it out of hand, and as it would be such a beautiful miracle if it came off, I will persevere. It’s certainly a very nice idea.

9. News Jump
A version of the Al Mann Newspaper test. Basically, you have a spectator sign a sheet of newspaper, which you then stand on. The spectator can pull the newspaper right out from under your feet without damaging the newspaper at all.

I haven’t tried this, and it doesn’t fit in with much I would do at the moment – but I have no reason to believe that it wouldn’t work as described.

10. Got Business
A very clean and very visual torn and restored business card routine. I actually really like this and have used it several times already since reading the manuscript.

11. Q-Tip Up Ear
This one made me smile, and will appeal to some and not others. Effectively you push a Q-Tip all the way into the ear until it disappears. For us English bods, a Cotton Bud works pretty well, although I suspect the make up isn’t exactly the same as the Q-Tip, but a little bit of thought and Cotton Wool in the right place works wonders.

It all ends very clean as the Q-Tip really does disappear. If you like the old “Cigarette up the nose” routine, then you will love this one as it doesn’t even use one of those smelly tobacco sticks.

Incidentally, after reading this it made me start thinking about how nice it would be if after showing your hands clean, you could then pull the Q-Tip back out of the opposite ear. Zach?

12. Clay-Do
The Effect. You take some of the bake in the oven clay, roll it up in to a little ball, place it the hands of the spectator where it will heat up and become solid right in their hands.
Interesting, and IMO nice thinking. Even if you don’t use this, and I suspect many wont, it does show how easy it is, with a little bit of thought, to transform a simple and standard move into a novel effect. It would possibly work as a part of a routine with the pyrokinetic “re-light” effect.

13. White Cliffs
The Effect: A ring very cleanly penetrates on and off a small golf pencil. This is completely impromptu.
This is nice. It does require a bit of practice but it makes a nice change from ring and rubber band effects, and as Mr. Allen said, can be done very impromptuly. The angles are a little tricky though so it will take a bit of practice (and long slender fingers will help a lot!)

14. Matrix
Most people have seen the film “The Matrix”, and enjoyed the slow motion scenes as time appeared to be slowed down. Well this effect will allow you to not just slow down time, but for one small raindrop get it to stop for just a few seconds.

The effect is that you cause a raindrop to pause in mid-air, and everyone can get a look at it floating there. With a wave of your hand, it continues its journey down to the ground, vanishing in a puddle.

This is very bizarre, and frankly why not? The method as described works very well, and I am all set to go. I just need a rain storm! With the right patter this trick is a little miracle, and for me the essence of what magic is all about.

Rating. Effect/item: 8/10, Quality of goods: 8/10, Value for money: 10/10

Bottom Line.
Everything in this manuscript may not be for everybody, but I’d put money on the fact that EVERYONE would at the very least find a few effects that they will use on a regular basis, and certainly will get them thinking more creatively.

When you consider that many of these effects could very easily have been marketed as stand alone tricks for the same sort of price being offered for the entire manuscript, then I think everyone will agree that this is incredible value for money.

Well done Zach Allen for taking the considerable time and effort to put this together. I look forward to seeing more of your magic.
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Hm, it gives me this error when I click purchase.

Error Detected
There was a problem with the decryption of your secure order. Please contact your merchant
Zach Allen
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Hey everyone,

apparently my PayPal link was not working...if you go back to my website there should be an updated link at the top of the page. Thanks, and sorry about the problem!


I just realized that I forgot to publicly thank Bananafish for taking the time to write up the review like that...so, thanks Simon(Bananafish)!

I wish that more people in general would review products like that. It would make our purchases a lot easier to make.

In regards to the pulling a Q-Tip out the other ear slowly....well, I am working on it! That's all I'll say on that for now.

I am working on shooting a DVD of the items from this book and several other unpublished pieces. That will be available at some point in the future. If you buy the e-book now, and would like to pick up the DVD when it comes out, there will be a significant discount for those people.

Thanks again for all of the support.

Zach Allen
Check out all 6 of my e-books!
The Magic of Zach Allen

Also, here is a free PDF of ideas:
Starlit Circles
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I also have this ebook, and I'd just like to add that it's full of ideas. I think it'd be a rare person that would be interested in all of them, but an equally rare person that wouldn't be interested in any. Fantastic value for money (especially with the current value of the dollar for those outside the states Smile )
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Thanks for the kind words, Dr_Gonzo.

He mentions ideas...almost everything in the e-book is set in routine format, with the moves that go along with the effect set. However, hidden inside these routnes (blatantly obvious, in some cases) are ideas that you can apply to different tricks or, at the very least, different handlings.

Crossing the Line is a complete routine, and in my opinion is the only one in the book (besides the story deck) that should be performed almost verbatim, because it is the patter that makes it what it is.

Things like ReLight, on the other hand, can be performed in a variety of different ways; a single match, or a book of matches, depending on how you want to play it. The gimmick in the New Best Friends routine could also be used in a Triple Prediction type effect. The gimmick from Raising Hell could be used for any card switch that you want to make. The SCISP method is a lesson in thinking outside of the box. You get the idea.

With this collection of routines and ideas, my goal was to inspire people. Not only did I want to give other magicians new routines, but also new toys to fiddle around with. Based on the feedback of those who have bought it, I think I've succeeded.


UPDATE: Two free tricks have been added to the site for download. Look for some videos put up sometime over the next week or so. I'll post when they become available.


UPDATE: March 13, 2004

Hey everyone....just an update on things.

I have shot a brief demo video for some of the effects in the book. I'm just attempting to figure out the best way to upload it so that people will be able to view it. Once I figure that out, I'll post here again.

For those of you who order the e-book from me from this point forward, you will receive an additional two routines, which will be described right now.

1) The magician turns his back, or leaves the room, or goes on a vacation to Hawaii. Your choice. The spectator is given a deck of cards to mix up completely and totally. The magician has the spectator concentrate on several cards (and yes, all the cards are different) and proceeds to read the mind of the spectator, divining all of the cards that he is looking at.

2) This is simply another one of the countless variations on the sandwhich routine, but there are a few subtle convincers added to make the routine very clean and open.

On a third note, I am currently in the process of putting a DVD together of these effects and several additional ones. All of you who purchase the ebook from me will get a free copy of the DVD (aside from the cost of postage) as a way of saying thanks for the support. All of you who already have bought the ebook, the offer applies to you as well, so don't worry. The DVD should be out by May at the latest.

For those of you who have purchased the ebook, have you tried out any of the routines yet? I'm curious to see how they are working for you.

That's about it for now...I'll post again when the video is up and running. Thanks!


Well, since I'm still in the midst of trying to deal with web-hosting issues, I've decided to host the video for the moment at http://www.sleightgeek.com.

You must register to view the video, but I don't really think it is all that much of a hassle to do. I've posted the direct link to the thread;


for those of you who are already signed in to sleightgeek, just click on it and it should work. If it doesn't, just go to


and the video is located in the "Video Sharing - Polished" section, under the title Ignis Fatuus.

Any questions about it, ask away.

Check out all 6 of my e-books!
The Magic of Zach Allen

Also, here is a free PDF of ideas:
Starlit Circles
Zach Allen
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Just to let you know...this is now available in a hard copy format. Until the end of this week, there will be no charge for the printing and shipping costs. After that, the price will go up. The same goes for all of my other available e-books.


Check out all 6 of my e-books!
The Magic of Zach Allen

Also, here is a free PDF of ideas:
Starlit Circles
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