Review: The Voodini Steps to Mentalism

[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Reviewer: Madame Curator”][vc_column_text]Every mentalist worth their salt would have read Corinda’s 13 Steps to Mentalism, widely respected and regarded as a bible of sorts. A great study introducing Mentalism, it is still the first read I’d encourage anyone eager to learn about the sophisticated mastery of sleight of mind.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find UK mystery performer Paul Voodini’s very own spin on the Corinda classic. Quite like Corinda’s book, The Voodini Steps was available as individual chapters first before it was published as a complete compilation. With more than 350 pages, Voodini shares about:

  1. Swami Gimmick
  2. Pendulums
  3. Mnemonics
  4. Predictions
  5. Blindfolds
  6. Billets
  7. Book Tests
  8. Telepathy & Psychic Party Games
  9. Mediumistic Stunts (previously released as ‘#9’)
  10. Playing Cards
  11. Cold Reading (contains elements from the previously released ‘Cold Reading Lecture’)
  12. Promotion & Publicity
  13. Patter & Presentation

At a casual glance there seems to be some similarity to Corinda’s 13 Steps:

  1. The Swami Gimmick
  2. Pencil, lip, sound, muscle reading
  3. Mnemonics & Mental Systems
  4. Predictions
  5. Blindfolds & X-Rays
  6. Billets
  7. Book Tests & Supplement
  8. Two Person Telepathy
  9. Mediumistic Stunts
  10. Card Tricks
  11. Question & Answer Effects
  12. Publicity Stunts
  13. Patter & Presentation

There is a reason for this as Voodini chose to use Corinda’s original headings as the starting points for his passion project. So what exactly is the difference between the two books?

The first thing that comes to mind is that it is deeply Voodini… Meaning, if you enjoy a blend of mentalism with the esoteric like I do, you will enjoy this read very much! I didn’t want to rush this read so I took my time, finishing the ebook in a week and found several parts very interesting. I agree with Voodini too that the last chapter should have been the very first!

Some effects are taught in Voodini’s Steps, but this is not one of those “book of tricks”; it’s much more than that as it is an honest sharing of personal and professional work experience gleaned over the years of being a worker. It is very readable, at times self-depreciating, and oftentimes funny.

It is a helpful introduction to someone new in the art of Mentalism and for myself, I really found gems in his chapters on Mnemonics (Voodini patiently takes you by the hand and leads you down your own Mind Palace), a beautiful story in his Blindfold chapter (that inspired me to dream of a new presentation), Cold Reading (a different perspective from the “shut eye” community, which will be refreshing for most) and Publicity & Promotion (it checked all the boxes with me).

Voodini is a good teacher who encapsulates values that I also share. Personally, I have seen too many performers trying so hard to be the Alpha Male on stage (an overcompensation of their shyness I believe), that it becomes all about them and not about the audience. Voodini has very good essays about presenting and presentation; things only a true worker with mindfulness and awareness has earned over the years and is now generously sharing.

Several current easy-to-understand examples are given in the book as well, which I enjoyed… For example, a cheeky pop culture reference of The Avengers was cleverly used to give context in Voodini’s firm standpoint that a performer need not have so many different (alleged) super powers. If I may quote the paragraph from the book:

In the original 13 Steps, Corinda states that it is enough to

be able to perform six tricks perfectly. I agree whole-

heartedly, and feel that this is particularly true of

mentalists. I have often thought it strange that some

mentalists feel the need to demonstrate a whole host of

abilities – from mind-reading through to metal bending. If

you genuinely had one super-power, if you could, for

example, predict the star sign of a stranger, would you

then think to yourself, “Yes, but I need more super

powers!” Of course not, you would have your super-

power and be happy with it, and go on to make your

fortune (or save the world from evil). Would it make sense

for Iron Man to think to himself, “Yes, I’ve got this super

cool metal suit but you know what? I kind of fancy being

a god of thunder too.” Of course not. Therefore my advice

is to all performers is do one or two things, and do them so

well that it is second nature to you.


So is this PDF download worth US$80?

While Voodini’s Steps is my cuppa tea… I can’t answer if this book is for you, since different people enjoy different things. I enjoy a good whisky with Romeo y Julieta Cigars; most other ladies may prefer red wine and vaping e-cigarettes. But what I can justly say is this…

This is a quality ebook that is written by a professional (not an armchair keyboard warrior to thinks he is an expert on all things) and Voodini gives many examples (some real life lessons of his where he had to learn from experience so we don’t have to encounter what he went through), plus there were some bits in the PDF that inspired me because it made me see a different perspective (which I personally enjoy).

I really enjoyed the read and finished it in days; no skipping of chapters or pages… there have been books where I simply gave up reading half way either because it got dry and boring or too technical. Safe to say, this is not one of those dreadful reads 😉

If I had to squeeze out any “cons”, it would be that I’d wish Voodini had an editor to help as there were some typos in a few chapters – but it is very minor because I had no trouble understanding what was being said. Some chapters were a little short (like his one on Pendulums) for me, but I suppose it served to whet my appetite and give a small nudge towards Voodini’s ebook solely on the subject. But pendulums are of an esoteric nature so it may not appeal to the more “contemporary/ right-wing” mentalists who scoff at anything “shut eye” related.

In a nutshell, I’d recommend this as a good read to open up your mind. The only way to know what really is “your thing” is to go out there and discover what works for you. After all, mentalism is a big house with many rooms. Enjoy!

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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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