I see that Penguin is carrying six mentalism effects by Outlaw Effects. If you are not familiar with Outlaw, they have some of the most unique and creative tools being created for mentalism. I have at least $1,500 worth of Outlaw Effects...I'm a big fan their work. Outlaw Effects is in the bizarre magic arena. Bizarre magic has many definitions. I would say my definition is storytelling meets mentalism. Much of Outlaw's stuff is handmade and expensive. However these 6 items are well within the reach of most mentalists. I don't have Psi Card or Lunaria but I do have the other 4 products.
One admission, I have not had these had these items for very long and have only tried them out on real folks a few times. I'm currently in grad school so my performance opportunities are not plentiful at the moment.
You're going to need some excellent presentational skills to use these items. Most of these are going to take some story telling. You could probably use them for a quick hit routine but you are going to miss the true power that comes from painting a detailed picture and sucking the spectator into the story.
Sanctum 2 is a membership card to a secret society. Outlaw provides you with the background story about the society. On the front of the card is the membership seal and some spooky & bizzare icons. There are a couple warm-up routines that you can do based on the symbols. Again, this is not a cut and dried routine. You'll need some intermediate presentational skills and some balls to pull these off. Things are not always going to work! But that all part of the show with Sanctum. You don't get a good hit from the spec? NO worries, you blaze on to the back of the card. This is where the real strength of the routine lies. The spectator is going to describe the sanctum meeting room in great detail. Then you show them the picture and it matches the description in great detail. Again, I have not done this routine yet, but I have done Sanctum 4...
Sanctum 4 carries on the Sanctum story line but it takes on a different form. Sanctum 4 is a ticket to a carnival. If you've ever seen "Something Wicked This Way Comes" you'll get a good mental picture. (If you have not seen this movie, I highly recommend it). The front is different and has some routining options. Remember, this is like a utility tool. It's meant for you to think up creative ways to use it! The back is a scene from a gypsy fortune teller's wagon. There is a great back story that is provided. You can start with the story and make it your own creation. Like Sanctum 2, you can place the spectator into a trace-like state and they can see the inside of the room in great detail. The time on the clock, the items on the gypsy's table, etc. This is not beginner material! However, if you have good story telling and acting skills, you'll feel right at home and have a blast. I have performed Sanctum 4 and it works...this can be really strong.
This is a kick a$$ book test that does not look like a book test. I've done Rachel Colombini's book test before and loved it. However, this is a different animal than having someone open a book and divining a word. This is much more.
Again, this has a strong back story. The study of paranormal in the university setting. This book looks like the real thing. I do have the hardcover version which is not for sale at Penguin. However, I'm told the softcover looks terrific as well. Reflections combines several principles.
The books has three parts to the routine. The planetary test - the working of the first test will cleverly disguise the transition to the next test. The book has 100s of sentences that are designed to evoke emotions. The spectator concentrates on one of the 100s of sentences and you are able to accurately describe the emotion that the sentence evokes! There is an option ESP symbol you can divine as well. The last test is a mind melter. The spectator looks at a list of memories (these are common memories we all share like a first date or kiss). No words pass between you and the spectator and yet you know which memory they picked! Essentially, this is the Kioku effect embedded in the book.
Reflections takes some memorization and audience management. You can expand Reflections by doing a little cold reading along the way for a terrific 10 minute routine.
The spectator is given 4 cards that indicate a memory pattern test. Each card lists a list of memories. The spectator looks at a list of memories (these are common memories we all share). No words pass between you and the spectator and yet you know which memory they picked!
I don't do this effect per se because I think Reflections is a more versitle routine. I also don't do this effect because I also own Outlaw Effect's Jinn Box which also uses the Kioku principle.
The Jinn Box is awesome and I would give it (10/10). Really strong.
Based on the effectiveness of the Jinn Box I give Kioku (8/10). Perhaps not as strong because there is less of a premise to work with. Bottomline is that Kioku is a strong effect that just seems impossible *IF* you can weave a story and manage the spectator's handling of the cards.