I was sent a review copy of this so I'll be thorough. I don't know Kyle personally so this is unbiased. This is the kind of trick that can be exposed easily by a detailed review, I'll my best to avoid that.
Its always difficult to write a review about an effect that its either a love-or-hate. The main effect, "Hands Hof!", a version of Hofzinser's Aces performed completely with the spectator(s) handling everything, has a lot of things going for it, and other things that don’t.
Lets get things out of the way first: The ebook isn’t made by Ben Harris so don’t expect high design quality. There are no illustrations/pictures though you won't need them. The author is very young so don’t expect him to be a great writer. The editing ( at the time of this writing ) can be improved though you will understand the description perfectly. There's a link to a performance in case you get lost. The crediting, however, is phenomenal, this is not an encyclopedia of Hofzinser's Lost Aces Problem though its definitely very informative. If you're new to the plot or interested in it, this is an extremely good place to start looking up information.
How good the trick is? The method is extremely simple and you'll hit yourself for not thinking of it. The effect itself is very good and did get very good reactions in my test performances, particularly since you really don't touch the deck at any point and the magic happens completely in their hands. If that sounds like a pipe-dream, keep in mind these limitations:
- Its YOUR deck, with a small setup.
- You have to introduce an ace-packet that you setup in advance ( takes less than 5 seconds if you have the needed ungaffed cards, put it in your wallet/pocket and you're set ). You can't use the aces from the deck.
If you decide to carry the ace-packet( in your wallet/pocket ), the setup in the deck itself is so minimal it can be achieved quickly. The effect itself is a variation of the Hofzinser plot, I don’t think I can go through it since its can be backtracked easily by magicians even by description alone. Yes, its far from a magician fooler though it plays very well for laymen. A nice thing about it is you won't have any problems doing it strolling. Only one common sleight is needed. You do end a liiiiiittle bit dirty though you don’t need to worry about. There is a clean up idea offered that adds a second phase ( discussed later ) though I'd ignore it. Its worth mentioning that if you manage to recollect the original contents of the ace-packet nonchalantly after the trick and place it in your pocket, you're clean AND you're reset for another table, leaving you with a clean normal deck ready for your next trick. You can't repeat the effect to the same spectators. The method is very simple and VERY economical, you get a very big effect for SO little effort, and that's where "Hands Hof!" really shine.
That’s it for the main trick. Now for the other ideas.
David Gemmell offers 2 variations. Both minimize the cards needed for the initial setup of the ace-packet though each at a cost. The first variation has a convoluted selection procedure. In the second the final effect is different: the ace ( say hearts ) changes places with the mate of the selection (a diamond ).
A 2nd phase idea by Ray Noble let you finish clean up and change the selection back to the ace. Its not good with no justified actions, and you only end clean if you prepare the ace packet from the deck you're performing with, otherwise you're going to end up with 4 aces ( which you're supposed to to put back in your wallet ) and a deck with 3 aces only. Its obvious he didn't work it, Skip it.
You also get 2 bonus Hofzinser variations taken from Kyle's other ebooks, both of them use 3 selections instead of one. Both are different and somewhat offbeat in terms of plot variation, and while the patter isn’t for everyone I do find them interesting. Both have a climax that I think doesn’t flow with the plot (though the cheesy patter somewhat justifies it): a back changes color or a card to box. Some people might like it especially if they managed to streamline the handling.
In a nutshell-
Get this if:
- You don’t mind carrying a packet of 4 cards in your wallet/pocket.
- Want a very good, extremely easy hands off version of Hofzinser's Aces.
- Appreciate extremely simple methods leading to huge outcomes.
- Have no problems knocking your head on the wall for not thinking of it.
- Open minded to variations in the plot.
Don't get this if:
- You're obsessed with good editing.
- Want to do a version with the aces in your working deck ( e.g. producing them beforehand)
- Don’t want to spend the pocket space of carrying a packet.
- Want to fool magicians
Oh, and its just 5 bucks. 4 stars.