peter duffie celtic cabal reviewI’ve long been an admirer of Peter Duffie’s card work – the quality of which, if you will forgive me a brief self-promoting moment, was demonstrated when I recently won a competition at our local magic club with my presentation of a brilliant little effect from Effortless Card Magic.  So I was delighted to get a chance to look at two of his most recent ebooks.  The first volume, Celtic Cabal, Peter has edited and contains effects by a range of Irish, Scottish and Welsh Magi.  The second, Hooked on Cards, is all his own work.

We can’t describe or comment on every individual effect, but we will pick out a couple of the gems and offer some general thoughts – and Part 1 of this review will focus on Celtic Cabal.  This was actually released in 2010 but we have only just had a look at it…

As regular readers will know, I have a small leaning in the direction of mentalism, and so appreciate that the first 40 odd pages (of this 181 page book) cover this area.  The largest section covers card magic (70 odd pages) and there are small close up (non-card) and stage sections and a bonus manuscript from Tom Sellers.  This is a lot of magic for your money.  Here are a few highlights of the various sections.


There are some interesting twists on some standard effects, some new presentations (including a neat ‘just chance’ effect with straws), some work on magic squares, and even an essay on the performance of mentalism.  I particularly enjoyed a routine with standard ESP cards partly based on the work of the ubiquitous Max Maven and a series of variations on the ‘diary trick’ – at least one of which may end up in my working set.  Peter himself contributes one of those diabolical all but self-working effects based on Bob Hummer’s CATO principle which could be a go-to impromptu effect.

Card Magic

Again a whole variety of effects including spelling tricks, ace tricks, transpositions etc. Some require reasonably advanced card handling, some are all but self-working.  A couple that caught my eye were an Alan Rorrison idea which provides a really elegant addition to an effect I already use in various forms to make a really strong routine and Steve Thompson’s incredibly subtle solution to a problem with some forms of OOTW.  I love his thinking on this. R Paul Wilson also contributes a nice and easy take on a four ace routine.

Close-Up Magic

This starts with a matrix effect that almost makes it into the card section because it’s not just the coins that are magical in this routine! There’s an interesting essay on creativity from Geraint Clarke who also includes a neat torn and restored bank note routine.  Trevor Lewis contributes a routine involving a nun (!) and a slightly risqué card trick slips in on the grounds that it is more than a card trick! There is also a two-stage story-based presentation from Dominic Lavin which seems to owe much to a Robert Neale presentation of the same effect.

Stage Magic

Pat Fallon contributes his presentation for the classic anti-gravity glasses.  There’s also an unusual routine for the Lota Bowl utilising the principle in a different way.  An updated version of the classic Fogel Bewitched, Bottled and Bewildered routine adds a mental twist and the mix is completed with a children’s routine and even the design for a magic table!

As a bonus, there’s a reprint of a Tom Sellers Manuscript – Royal Flush – detailing various false shuffles and moves and routines using them.

This is one of the most varied ebooks I have seen in a long time – literally something for every kind of performer.  Everything is clearly explained and well-illustrated where necessary.  The book is nicely laid out – and extremely easy to navigate with a properly hyperlinked table of contents.  All in all an excellent read and much that will stimulate your thinking.

We salute our Celtic Fringes!  Available from Merchant of Magic (with thanks to Peter Duffie who kindly provided the review copy) for only $22.50 (about £14 in real money – or less than 31p per item!).

[You can read part 2 here]

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