Barnum Effect ReviewWe love all kinds of quality close up magic here at, but we have a special soft-spot for mentalism, and (I may be giving away too much here) Welsh accents.  So we were delighted to get the chance to review the Barnum Effect – one of the latest releases from MagicDirect.  We had high hopes since we’ve been impressed by the quality of the effects they have put out in the past (see our review of Genetics).

So what is it?  Here’s what they say:

You place an envelope on the table and hand a spectator a stack of Flash Cards which can be openly shown. You ask the spectator to deal the Flash Cards face up until they choose to stop. You tell them to turn that card over and say the word or phrase that is on the flash card. You then immediately tip out the prediction and they open it up to find your prediction matches the word they stopped at! Impossible!

And it really is that clean.  My one sentence version of the effect would be like this: “a freely chosen card from a series of random flash cards matches only prediction in envelope which has been in full view from beginning.”

Now, the first thing that Gareth Shoulder (the inventor) says on his introduction is that this is the “Perfect effect” – which is a bold claim. I’m not quite sure I’d go that far, but he said it in a Welsh accent and so gets away with it.

However, it is definitely very strong and it is also very easy to do – so if you’ve got some presentation skills it really does come across that strongly.  As a table-hopping magician, the fact that the reset is instant massively appeals to me.

Gareth provides a full explanation of the history of his development of the effect.  It is fair to say that there is nothing radically new here, but it has been put together well into a pleasing effect. I don’t think I’ve seen flash cards used in this way before (though I’m sure that someone must have) – and I think their use helps to sell the effect.  The props seem so innocuous that it makes the revelation even more surprising.  And, though I’m not sure I should be saying it on this site, they make a nice change from playing cards!

I’ll be honest, I still need to road test this, but I can see it slipping easily into my walkaround set.  It is a strong effect which is easy to understand, takes up little space and uses simple props.  What more could you ask for?

The package is very thorough and in addition to the necessary flashcards and envelopes includes an alternative prediction card so you could use a different prop you might already have as part of effect.  (Can’t say more without tipping too much of the method).

The DVD design is good and easy to navigate.  There is a thorough explanation of all the necessary and lots of little performance tips are included on the way. I’ve not heard of Gareth Shoulder before, but will certainly be looking out for his name in the future.  Highly recommended and available from (with thanks to MagicDirect who kindly provided the review copy).

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