Fully Booked | Cardially Yours

By Harapan Ong - Sunday, July 21, 2019


It is impossible to do a book review series like this without eventually reviewing one of the countless publications by THE Cardician himself, Edward Marlo. His body of work, especially in card magic, is staggering and many of the tricks, moves and plots we take for granted now have once been refined and improved on as they passed through his hands.

However, with so many publications from Marlo, trying to study all of his material can be very intimidating. While different people have different suggestions on how to start studying Marlo, my suggestion is to go with the book that I will be reviewing today, titled Cardially Yours.

Why do I say that? Firstly, Cardially Yours is part of a Marlo trilogy, and it is actually a huge compilation of Ed Marlo’s best and most influential work on card magic, such as “Off The Top”, “Marlo in Spades” and probably his most famous work, “The Cardician”. The book in fact starts with a section on Early Marlo: some of Marlo’s early booklets like Pasteboard Presto and Marlo’s Discoveries are included too. I am a huge fan of compilation books, because to me, this is the most economical way to buy magic books. You get the most bang for your buck - if you were to try to hunt down and buy each individual book by itself, not only will it be difficult to do so, it will cost way more money than buying this compilation of Marlo’s best work.

The best thing about Cardially Yours is that while the quality of card magic found within these pages is indeed very good, the sheer quantity of material in here makes it a great reference book for any serious card magician. There are so many tricks, sleights and moves in here, I sincerely believe that it will take most people a lifetime to learn everything in here. I can always count on picking this book off my shelf, flipping to a random page and seeing something in there that I had missed out on my previous reading of the book.

With this many tricks in this big compilation book, it is hard to review every single trick in the book. I will simply name a few personal highlights:

Perfect Stop Trick: As the name suggests, it really is the perfect stop trick. A card is freely selected and lost in the deck. The spectator deals and stop on a card - let’s say they stop on a Ten. They deal ten cards down and find their selection. Incredibly baffling and fooling, even for magicians. This is in my own repertoire. Push Through Failure: A great plot that is sorely under explored. It uses the push through false shuffle in a very interesting way - by “exposing” it to the audience as an faux explanation for the effect. I love it! Action Palm: Marlo was known for the concept of devising what is now known as an action palm - secretly palming cards off the deck under the disguise of performing some other action, like pushing another card into the deck or giving the deck a riffle shuffle.

If you are unfamiliar with reading and studying Marlo, I should warn you that in general, you can expect the text to be pretty dense, technical and dry. There are photos here and there to help with your learning, but generally the book is focused on describing the necessary sleight of hand to accomplish each effect. There is almost no description on how each trick is to be presented, so that is left up to you, the reader, to present each trick the way you want. Hence, if you are looking for a routine that you can immediately put into your working repertoire, then this book is probably not for you.

Nevertheless, I think you will be doing yourself a huge favour if you get this book and treat it as a great reference book for card magic. The broad scope of plots and effects in the book is just perfect as inspiration material if your brain ever needs a creative kick to get you thinking in a new direction. Besides all the classic plots of card magic, there are also tricks involving cards with billets, pocket knives and even paperclips. There are also a lot of small little moves like single card productions, quick sandwiches and false cuts that I think will be perfect for the “move monkeys” out there.

If you’re serious about card magic, there is NO way you can avoid learning some Marlo material. There is a very good reason for why his name and his work has stood the test of time, after all. And if you want to get the best introduction to Marlo’s work and his style of card magic, I think the safest bet is to go with Cardially Yours.


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