Review: MENTALLICA (Heavy Mental Magic) by Ben Harris

[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Reviewer: John Teo”][vc_column_text]MENTALLICA is a book on varied mental magic.  It contains effects ranging from mind-reading, drawing duplication, remote viewing, to metal bending.  These effects include those taken from his one-man stage magic act “Hellucinations”.  They are therefore audience tested tricks.

Altogether, six effects are described.  Four of them require the use of props that are available from magic dealers.  They are:

  • Shift (from Ellusionist) – self-bending metal key when held inside a spectator’s palm.
  • Light (by Chris Congreave) – card or bill to inside the case of a Zippo lighter.
  • The Mother Of All Book Test (by Ted Karmilovich) or Area Book Test (by Looch) or Glance (by Steve Thompson) – diving a “freely-chosen” word in a book.
  • MultiDimensional or MD Mini (both from Promystic) – diving the top colour of a cube hidden from sight.

If you do not possess any of these devices, you will not be able to perform that effect that is associated with it.  If you do not have all of these props, you will not be able to perform four out of the six tricks described in the book.

In his “Introduction”, Ben Harris mentions that he chose to use marketed props instead of relying on sleight-of-hand because this enables him to perform tricks that are direct, uncluttered and easily understood by his audience.  This allows him to design and concentrate on presentations that hit hard on the faces of his audience.  This is the strength of Ben Harris, and this is the gist of the book.

Ben Harris did not perform the effects as described in the instructions that accompany those products when you purchase them.  Instead, the creative Ben Harris has designed alternative presentations that bring each of these props to the next level.  Here are the descriptions of the four effects that utilize such props:

  • RINGthing – by using a lady helper and a circular key holder that contains an extra contrasting metal key to the “Shift” Key, Ben eliminates the weaknesses of the handling of the “Shift” Key.  This is a metal key bending effect that takes place entirely in the spectator’s hand.  To describe the effect in further details would enable those who own “Shift” to perform Ben’s “RINGthing” and would be unfair to those who purchase this book.
  • The Eternal Flame – this presentation is a powerful mental application of “Light” which is otherwise a card to impossible location trick.  A spectator is asked to think of his or her favourite artist in a particular genre of music (eg, Boyzone in Boy Bands, or Whitney Houston in Divas, etc).  The spectator is asked to imagine he or she is at a concert where the audience waves a lighter’s flame to and fro.  Suddenly, the lighter fails to light.  It is discovered that inside the casing of the Zippo lighter is a concert ticket to the selected artist’s musical performance.
  • X-Ray Mother – a spectator is asked to freely circle any word in a book.  The book is kept away from the performer.  Yet the performer is able to use his x-ray vision to see into the book and read the circled word.  Ben provides all the details to make this into a powerful presentation of the “Mother Of All Book Test”, “Area Book Test” or “Glance” book.
  • 3 Dimensional – a small 6-colour cube is placed on a saucer and covered with a cup.  The entire assembly is shaken several times.  When the cup is lifted off the cube, its colour orientation is matched exactly by a colour sketch done by the performer.  Ben teaches you how to do this even though “MD Mini” allows you to divine only one colour of the cube.

The other two effects do not require any special devices.  They are:

  • Televised Drawing Duplication – the performer is able to duplicate a drawing done by a spectator before the show.  The spectator affirms to the entire audience that she has a free choice of drawings, the drawing is kept hidden in a sealed envelope and is in her possession at all time, and no one has touched the envelope.  This obviously require a pre-show to be carried out by the performer, but the method employed is very cunning.
  • Director’s Cut – this is an ACAAN effect based on the first part of his own recently published book “A Thought Well Stolen”.  This is a brilliant concept and well thought-out method for ACAAN that is so clean and straight-forward that it appears to be devoid of any gimmick or any influence by the performer.

There is one more chapter in the book:

  • Shopping Centre Impromptu – in this chapter, Ben provides valuable information that a mentalist can obtain simply by observing individual cars that are parked at a shopping mall car-park, or even the car-park of your performing venue.  However, this depends very much on the authority and living styles and habits of the people in individual countries.

It is difficult to rate this book.  And I will give you the reasons behind it.  

If you like clever and practical ideas, this book has them.  Even for effects utilizing marketed props, Ben’s alternative presentations lift them up to a new level of application.  If you appreciate creative ideas because this will spur you on to thinking of alternative applications for the many props that are lying idle in your magic drawers, then this book is highly recommended for you.

However, if you are looking for effects to perform out of this book, this depends on how many of the props mentioned here that you possess.  At least, you can perform the two tricks that do not require any special device.  And they are good effects.  For people who have no problems in purchasing props even though they may be costly, I am sure Ben’s presentations will inspire you to invest in some of these props.  This book comes as recommended reading for you.

Magic is our passion but we are not a magic shop ? You can purchase this here![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]


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Ning Cai is a Singapore Literature Prize nominated author, who was also long listed for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize in 2016. A bestselling writer, she is also recognised for her illusionist/ escapologist stage character Magic Babe Ning, and recognised by Channel News Asia as South East Asia's first professional female magician.

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