When I first acquired the original Nick Trost Subtle Card Creations book, I had no idea it would launch such an exhaustive series. We’re now up to Volume 6 – and they’re still well worth your attention. Here’s our review.
Between the covers
Produced in a design which matches the first five Subtle Card Creations volumes, this is a lovely hard-backed book of more than 230 pages containing over 100 tricks in 13 chapters. Effects are grouped by theme and cover an enormous range of card magic – including 4-Ace tricks, tricks using Court Cards, Poker and Gambling Tricks, ESP tricks, etc.
I didn’t spot any that used anything other than an ordinary deck of cards (though a couple did require some special dice) – so you can pretty much sit down, deck in hand, and dig in.
The word ‘Subtle’ in the title does imply that careful thought has gone into the methods to avoid them relying on much in the way of sleight of hand. However, many of the routines do require basic card handling – false shuffles, double undercuts, counts etc. – this isn’t a completely ‘self-working’ volume.
Like me, as you work your way through the amazing variety of effects, you will learn or be reminded of some subtle forces and sneaky procedures. Trost (who died in 2008) was clearly extraordinarily well-read. In fact, these volumes would be a great way of surveying the wider card magic literature with Nick Trost as your guide or curator to lead you to the gems. He appears to have read everything written on card magic since around the 1940s! He is also fastidious in his crediting/attribution which always wins bonus points with me.
A few minor niggles
One small frustration is that moves already described in earlier volumes aren’t always described again – so if you don’t have the whole set you may have to look things up elsewhere. The writing style is straightforward and clear – but not particularly engaging. Some magic books are just a joy to read – this is much more functional – clear and informative rather than entertaining in style.
From my perspective it contained a very high number of poker and other card games or gambling-based tricks. Although I love playing Cribbage on occasion, I’m not sure a cribbage based trick would appeal to many of my audiences. And effects themed around Gin-Rummy/Euchre/Casino even less so.
Trost also tends to take a principle and work it to death – in fact I think we get an insight into his creative process here. He will often take someone else’s effect and try to streamline or simplify it by applying some of his enormous repertoire of principles.
That being said, there are some real gems in here. In this quantity of tricks you wouldn’t expect them all to be of the same quality/interest. As always with a decent magic book, the price per trick value rating is fabulous! And if you were to collect the whole set you would find yourself with an extraordinary resource and a lifetime of study. I’ve still got a couple of volumes missing from my set – so I better get saving…
The Subtle Card Creations of Nick Trost Volume 6 is available from the Merchant of Magic for £39.50 (at the time of writing).
Review copy kindly provided by Murphys Magic to whom dealer enquiries should be directed.
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