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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Books, Pamphlets & Lecture Notes » » Book Review: Parlour Tricks by Morgan and West (4 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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If you don't want to read it, I've posted a video version on YouTube:


Morgan and West are magicians, time travellers, and all around spiffing chaps. They tour the UK and perform their magic shows. Yes, shows, plural. This book, Parlour Tricks, is one of those shows of the same name. If you’d like to hear what they sound like, I hosted a podcast with them a little over a year ago before this book was even announced ( That being said, I am in no way affiliated with them, and I’m going to be completely honest in this review. With THAT being said, I do love this book. Now let’s get into the review.


Vanishing Inc has done it again. They really know how to produce a book. After purchasing Parlour Tricks, you’ll receive a beautiful hardcover copy of the book. The production quality of the book is top notch. The cover is decorated with “inside jokes” that reference the routines in the book. For example, there is an owl on the bottom right corner. I’m not going to explain it, but it’s a reference to the finale. The border on the book is made up of MWMWMWMWMWMWMWMWMW for Morgan and West.


Parlour Tricks isn’t just a book of tricks. It is a full show. Morgan and West have toured their show “Parlour Tricks” for years, and have now published it. Throughout its 354 pages, you’re let in on 12 full routines. And when I say full routines, I mean FULL routines. You’re given not only the method, but the presentation. With the 12 routines comes 12 scripts and colored photographs so you know how the moves and staging are supposed to look. But that isn’t all this book is either. After each routine, there is an essay. The essay always loosely and tangentially relates to the routine before it. It may be on the evolution of a trick, it may be about costuming, or it may simply throw a ton of shade at card tricks. You also get a link to view the full 90 minute show. I read the book, watched the show, then watched the show with the book in hand. I would recommend ingesting the material however you like, though.



These aren’t routines that were thought of to publish and have never been performed in front of an audience. These are routines that have been toured in a stage show and are now being published as the show is being retired. Each and every one of them is audience tested. The teaching is also fantastic. There is no point in the book that you are left wondering what’s happening or if you missed a move. In fact, after getting Parlour Tricks, I rehearsed and rehearsed and performed “The Miraculous Escape of [Braden Carlisle].”



You may think I’m being generous as I gave the routines a perfect score and now I’m doing the same for the essays. I can promise that I’m not being generous, but I may be biased as they have personally affected my act. I’ve been able to glean something from each and every one of the essays in Parlour Tricks. The one that really spoke to me was titled “Removing the Cards from a Card Trick” and followed “The Impossible Ring on Ribbon” routine. I don’t want to say too much about it here. Buy the book if you want to know, but it was essentially the idea that routines can and will be much more memorable for the audience if you avoid using cards all the time. They aren’t saying card tricks are bad, though. But why not use something that the audience can identify with more than a piece of cardboard with some numbers and pictures on them?


I feel like I’ve already doted on this book enough, so I’ll just give a quick recap. You get 12 full routines that have been proven to work in front of an audience. You also get 12 essays that, if you digest them, will give you a lot to think about. You also get a chance to watch the full show online if you wish to do that. It’s one thing to read a show, but it’s pretty cool to get to see how the jokes land, or how Morgan and West handle audience members on stage.


The only con of this book that comes to mind is the fact that the routines and scripts are specifically designed for Morgan and West. This presents two problems for the reader.

Everything in this book is designed for a double act. As the book states at one point “you are most certainly not a double act.” That’s fine with me. There is so much thought put into all of these routines that you’ll still get something from them. You can also adapt most of the routines, save for a couple, into something that you can perform yourself.
All of the scripting in this book is written in Victorian English and some of the jokes are very Anglo-centric. That’s fine as well. Change it up. Make it your own. You don’t want to just be a copycat, anyway. Write your own jokes. Take some of this for inspiration and perform the effect, but make it your own.


I don’t really know what more I can say here. It’s a fantastic book.
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Books, Pamphlets & Lecture Notes » » Book Review: Parlour Tricks by Morgan and West (4 Likes)
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