I hadn’t been planning to write another review this year – I was going to enjoy a little more down time with family – until Hidden Agenda arrived. And I haven’t been able to put it down.

So here’s my review of this very unusual magic book. I have a feeling it will be, as we say in the United Kingdom, a Marmite kind of a book – you’ll either love it or hate it. It isn’t like a ‘normal’ magic book in that it isn’t just a book of tricks, or even a book of essays on magic theory. Instead, it is a strange combination of the two, arranged as a series of daily readings.

If you are familiar with his earlier release – Secret Agenda – then you will know exactly what to expect. And it is self-consciously in the same mode.

No Hidden Agenda?

It is a beautifully presented hard bound book (approximately 24×21.5x3cm if you’re the sort of person who’s bothered about these things, or are worried about shelf space!) – very closely matching the style of Secret Agenda – but in dark grey/black with white and silver design rather than the burgundy colour of its predecessor. Vanishing Magic are to be commended for so closely matching the style of a book from another publisher.

roberto giobbi - hidden agenda - reviewAs I’ve mentioned it is arranged into daily entries – one for each day of the year – most of which take a single page, but some are a couple of pages long.

These entries include some tricks, some questions to ponder, advice born out of decades of experience, quotes gathered from within and outside of the magical community, some ideas for presentations to try out, thoughts on magical theory, and sometimes even just a photo. There are plenty of photographs and illustrations and the whole thing is very pleasingly set out.

I love the way it has been written to provoke thought and stimulate you to creativity and imagination with your own magic. But if you’re the sort of person who simply loves to know how tricks are done or to slavishly copy someone else’s routine, it may not be for you.

I’m sure that you would get the most value out of Hidden Agenda by strictly observing an entry a day and truly pondering over the content. For me, when I’m into something I enjoy I can’t help ploughing on – so I’m reading many days at a sitting. But I’m sure I’ll come back to it again many times.

Learning from a master

Giobbi is a master teacher as is displayed in his Card College series – which is truly the definitive way to learn card handling for magicians. But at this point in his career, you are also gleaning from the benefit of many years of performance experience.

Hidden Agenda is a delightful read, and I suggest that if you have been fortunate enough to be given some money or magic shop vouchers for Christmas that you rush straight out and buy a copy. And if you order it quick, you can start reading on January the 1st and make it a new year’s resolution to keep going!

In case you haven’t realised this, I’m a great fan of Hidden Agenda, which is available direct from MagicShop.co.uk for £44.50 (at the time of writing)

Review copy kindly provided by Murphys Magic to whom dealer enquiries should be directed.

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