Book Reviews



Faithful readers of this journal will recognize Ed Solomon from his several contributions to Tom Craven's "Havenly Close-Up" column. Members of the Shadow Digest website will know him as the contributor of the wonderful DeNomolos story effects. Subtitled "Presentations for the Storyteller," these are DeNomolos presentations, and the fact that they are practical as well as telling is amply shown by the color photos of the beautiful, exotic props accompanying each.

DeNomolos is a wonderfully fleshed out character: an eccentric, somewhat elderly gentleman, who is a retired educator (even as is Solomon himself). He is a "collector of the unusual, a student of the black arts and a bizarrist by choice." Like many of us he collects boxes of all sorts. "His knowledge, while humble, is all embracing, and he will debate at the drop of a subject."

As "the master" he explains in the introduction, he is an Egypt buff as is reflected throughout this fascinating volume. The trick titles well illustrate this theme: "An Egyptian Card Box," "Building a Pyramid," "Beads of Nefertiti," "Mummy Transposition," "Scarab Ritual," etc., etc.

There are thirty such presentations, which accompanied by those color photos of exotic looking Egyptianesque apparatus. The book opens with a ritual based on U.F. Grant's Altar Lights (coincidentally, the first serious magic trick I ever owned). Yes, there are a couple of card tricks, but most use Egyptian tarot cards and would not be considered a card trick by lay audiences.

Essentially this is a book of story close-up magic with lovely gerrymandered (a better term, I think, than "built," although great care has been taken with them), exotic apparatus that you will have to make should you wish to do any of them. And, you will. Worth more than the price to me for the examples of the spell a creative, intelligent, thoughtful approach to magic can weave for an audience. Highly recommended, sure to be a collector's treasure.

Phil Willmarth
March 2003


A companion volume to EGYPTIAN MAGIC reviewed in March, here is another book of DeNomolos' story presentations complete with color photos of the apparatus involved. There is even a color photo of DeNomolos as a frontispiece. It is important to note that each and every piece in the book has been performed and proven practical and entertaining.

You will find "humor", dark mystery, accounts of witchcraft, dabblings in Alchemy, stories and presentations for amusement and amazement of anyone who would dare to delve into the strange world of DeNomolos, Sage, Mage, etc. The material presented is not supernatural but the audience does not know this and it is to your advantage that they do not.

There is even a dark, practical joke, which should cause screams and concern about the health of the person it is performed for or "on." All in all, it is a delicious mix of the bizarre, the unusual, the spooky and the just plain fun. It is a great read and should be a source of inspiration regardless of your area of magical interest.

Sure to be a collector's prize and highly recommended.

Phil Willmarth
April 2003



Ed Solomon's name is now familiar to the regular readers. His EGYPTIAN MAGIC was reviewed here in the March, 2003 issue and his book STRANGE OFFERINGS was reviewed in the April, 2003 issue. Here is yet another in that same format, again sure to be a collector's item.

Here are 20 story presentations, all of which use a magical, surprise sound to add mystery and emotional impact. Ed Solomon is a retired music teacher, so sound and recording devices are very much in his toolbox. The sound of children's laughter, a voice from a long-ago past, a heart beat, the tinkle of wind chimes in a darkened, wind free room, the sound of a Bo'sun's pipe, the sound of a nightingale. Any one of these added to an emotion-packed story…well you can just imagine the impact.

These are tales of life and death, happiness and sadness, of spirits roaming a darkened room, etc. These are excellent examples of how to add emotional impact to stories or magical presentations. I like this a lot and find it quite inspirational. I believe you will, too. But, don't delay, these won't last long.

Phil Willmarth
August 2003


Here is another book of "Presentations for the Storyteller." Faithful readers will recognize Ed Solomon from his award winning One-man Parade in the October issue-indeed five of the 26 presentations in this book may be found in that Parade. So check it out, if you like the material therein, you will definitely like that in the book. If you don't, consider this: One of the major factors proposed for the lower respect rendered Magic than the other Arts, such as drama and music, is Magic's lack of emotional appeal. If that resonates in your heart of hearts, perhaps the kinds of presentations offered here, are just what your magic is lacking.

Here are some of the titles of the effects described, which will give you some idea of what the presentations might be like: "Acid Reflux," "Afraid of the Dark," "Birthday Surprise," "The Hand of Fate," "Lunacy or Moon Madness," " A Touch of Merlin," and "Wizards School."

Here are some of the magical effects: predictions, book test, coin in a bottle, Hindu rope, ball and vase, pulse stopping, jumping bone, Chinese vase, hanging coins, mysterious movement, and torn and restored. There is a Glorpy- like effect, the appearance of a "demon", a visual illusion, etc.

I really like this book a lot. I am in awe of the imaginative presentations, the charismatic props Ed Solomon has developed, and the fun, spooky, emotion arousing effects produced. The methods are often different than what one would expect, as are the climaxes. Try one of these among those you normally do and check the reactions. You just might be surprised (and converted). Highly recommended.

Phil Willmarth
March 2004



In a Blink: 10 Out of 10

The title of this book, pretty much covers what it's about, tales worth telling. And, boy, is that an understatement! Not only are there almost-two-dozen stores worth telling, and they will hold the audience spellbound!

For years, I have argued that bizarre magic - or, to be more accurate, storytelling magic - should be able to touch the audience with just the story and without any magic.

My favorite in this collection - "Carl's Garden" - is just such a story. No need for magic here; in fact, if anyone can hear this and remain unmoved, then they have a heart of stone!

Add the right magic and you have an even more powerful piece.

And that's pretty much true for every story in this book.

In the yarn, "Fairy Tales Can Come True", Solomon starts off on one tack and then switches to another in a delightful romp, giving a whole new use to the Okito box (well, not a "whole" new use...).

Solomon goes from the commonplace, in "Man, Spam, Scam", to the exotic in "Mythos".

But in all cases, the story is the thing. As he says, at the end of "Mythos", " matter how good the effect or how good the slight of hand, without a story it is just a novel way of bringing about transference".

My only quibble with this book - and it's a small one - is that many of the routines, or stories, require specialized, dealer items, which Solomon rightly does not go into here.

I say it's a small quibble because, if you think you are ready for this sort of thing, then you probably already have the props, stuck in your magic "junk" drawer or are wondering why you ever bought them.

This e-book deserves - and gets - the highest recommendation.



In a Blink: 10 Out of 10

Material: 10
Excellent and mostly original material. And that which is not original, like W.W. Jacobs classic short story The Monkey's Paw, is fully credited.

Quality: 10
Solomon writes like a pro and, given the number of books that he has
produced, that's not surprising.

Illustrations: 10
There are many color photos of the props. Solomon could have put more in but they wouldn't have added anything to the book.

Presentation: 10
The material is presented is a professional and "you will use it" manner. As Solomon says, "I am never able to just think about it as I write. I need to have the props in my hands so that it is not just another pipe dream."

Originality: 10
Highly recommended; see "Material" above.

Peter Marucci


In a Blink: 10 Out of 10

By saying that the stores and routines in this book are "compiled and edited" by Ed Solomon, the author short shrifts himself, since that implies that none of the more than a dozen and a half yarns are original.

For example, "Dad's Brownies" is a great routine with or without the magic. In fact, it - like so much of Solomon's work - is faintly reminiscent of the late Gene Poinc (or should that be the other way round?)

As well as being a great story, and a good vehicle for magic, the tale provides a great moral lesson, too - and without being "preachy".

I thought my favorite was "Marfa Mysteries" - one story seamlessly blends into another - until I found out why: The last part is credited to me! It appeared, pretty much as Ed Solomon records it, in my monthly column.

Gee, no wonder I liked it so much!

Seriously, trying to pick out one favorite routine is pointless; there is just so much good material here.

Solomon can take something like that old saw, the piano trick, dress it up with gold coins and a good, solid story line, and end up with a minor miracle called "Pirate Gold".

"That's What It's All About" will bring a tear to the eye - right up until the end and the truly bad magic gag!

However, as Solomon says, "Release from tensions and relaxation of the mood is often a mean on lightening up an otherwise too serious presentation."

In the piece "The Butterfly", Solomon points out that the story will stand alone and "it (can be) simply a motivational story that is good in almost any situation."

"The Dime" most certainly will bring a lump to your throat and it works with the simplest of magic.

As in many of Solomon's routines, he gives more than one way of including the magic in the story.

And "Walls" is a wonderful story that can stand-alone (again) or incorporate Tom Jones' "Window of Opportunity".

In either case, it is a powerful piece on which to end the book.




In a Blink: 10 Out of 10

Material: 10
It may be "old hat" to say it but the material here, original or not, is nothing short of brilliant. And none of these are pipe dreams: You can see in you mind's eye each one working! A well-deserved 10.

Quality: 10
Solomon, while not a professional writer, certainly writes like one and the routines are a joy to read. An unequivocal 10.

Illustrations: 10
The type of stories that Solomon deals with wouldn't be aided by explanatory illustrations; anyway, your mind's eye does a much better job. There are many pictures of the props.

Presentation: 10
There is only one word and that word is "brilliant". This warrants at least 10; I wish the scale went higher!

Originality: 10
This is a sort of gray area; some of the pieces are clearly not original and Solomon points that out. Some others may be original - I have no way of knowing. But, as I said at the beginning, Solomon takes no chances with credits and says that he "compiled and edited" the stores; he doesn't say they are original. But why screw up a perfect score? I give this 10, too.

Peter Marucci




Ed Solomon's name will be familiar with those who subscribe to Shadow Digest, and his offerings have appeared in these pages from time to time, with more to come. Essentially, this is bizarre magic-spooky happenings involving unique and intriguing artifacts, and accompanied by entertaining stories. As Ed explains, these are not for Sunday school, although there is nothing satanic about them. What he has done is compile 29 of the best routines that DeNomolos, Sage, Mage, etc., etc., has posted on the Shadow Digest.

The book has 103 large pages, and is paper bound. What sets it apart, aside from the high quality of the presentations, are the illustrations-all full-color laser prints. This is especially important to storytelling magicians because in a very real sense, props create ambience. (Bruce Barnett says that such photos inspire him to work hard on the appearance of his own props.) So when the story has to do with an exotic gold-leafed wooden hand from India, when removed from a wooden box, mysteriously moves on its own, we can sense the entertainment value of the routine more exactly when we see a photograph of the gold hand. A black and white print just isn't the same. Or how about what appears to be a blue-and -white porcelain tea cup that DeNomolos swears was once owned by Miss Jerry, that turns on its saucer, moved by unseen forces (different forces that used with the wooden hand, by the way.) Or how about a special box made from a section of tree limb with a hinged lid that opens to reveal spaces for seven colored stones, although only six are seen. The "blood stains" on the box are an added bonus. This box looks so neat you're halfway home just by opening it! DeNomolos uses it for a prediction of sorts, although not with the usual 6-item force.

"DeNomolos set a place at his table with a rather large leather altar cloth of I guess that was what it was. I had not seen this before and I thought that I knew most of his trappings well. It was dark but I could make out a circle and several strange markings at each corner much like decorations on points of a compass…" and so the stories flow. Again quoting Bruce Barnett, "[Ed's] passion and dedication, as does his perfectionism."

Highly recommended.

David Goodsell
February 2003



Ed Solomon is an Egyptologist, kinda. He loves the stuff and has been collecting "Egypt" things for many years. And he is a magician His alter ego is a sage mage named DeNomolos. DeNomolos performs bizarre magic for his friends, who often visit him in his home. Quite often the effects and routines use the "Egypt" stuff and have to do with "Egypt' history and theology. Solomon is DeNomolos' Watson, and has recorded nearly 30 such effects in the book EGYPTIAN MAGIC.

DeNomolos reasons, quite rightly, that the impact of his kind of magic depends in large part on the props uses-that and the stories. So, he wants the readers to see these items. Some of them are one-of-a-kind, which means that the reader cannot reproduce them exactly; however those so inclined will have no problem finding similar objects. As is the case in many bizarre routines, the actual magical secrets are quite simple, and for the most part are not original with DeNomolos. For example, "Reanimation" relies of the "Telekinetic Timber," doctored to look like an old piece of wood. Some of the routines are created around old magic tricks, possibly no longer available-a vanishing pack of cigarettes that became a block of gold and Grant's "Sacred Temple Altar Lights," are two examples. Some rely on dealer items and secrets from books by Larry Becker, Max Maven, Brother Shadow and others. Therefore, the actual modus operandi are missing from several of the routines, and the reader is directed elsewhere for methods. Egyptian Tarot cards, statuettes, scarabs, reed mats, parchments covered with hieroglyphics, small mummy cases. These are also props. So, if you are not going to learn how to do all the tricks, why buy the book? Well…you probably won't want to buy it unless you are particularly fond of story magic and want to see how one very skilled storytelling magician built routines around tricks, how he embellished them with exotic props, and turned the occasional magic tricks for friends into an event. Then you might buy it. I know I would.

Highly recommended

David Goodsell
March 2003



In my opinion Ed Solomon is among the best storytellers in magic today, in particular in what is termed Bizarre Magick. His stories have nothing to do with demons or evil spirits. His presentations are not druidic. There are no ceremonial robes or daggers, potions or incantations, although there is often a unique box, bell or candle, or a bras birdcage or a bo'sun's whistle, or perhaps a mummified alligator claw-unusual things a person might collect over a lifetime of travel. Ed especially likes unusual boxes. His presentations have everything to do with stories that touch the heart, that bring back remembrances of youth and lost loves, or call to mind concerns over growing old. Occasionally they touch on hauntings and unusual occurrences, and maybe memories of Harry Houdini. Ed writes, "Finding the right story is the task of the teller of tales. Assigning some bit of magical emphasis is the challenge of the Bizarrist." That is, Ed writes for magical storytellers.

In SOUND FX, the focus is on using simple electronic devices to create audible "happenings" that enhance the story. These invariably come at the end of the story, often after a few seconds of appreciative silence-a bird chirping, a heartbeat, spirit raps, the SOS of Morse code, a plaintive little voice calling for help, a doorbell, and my favorite, the faint sound of children's laughter. These effects are all possible using simple, inexpensive tape players and digital message recorders, often muffled through layers of cloth. We recognize, of course, that without the proper ambiance and the storyteller's skill these sounds will be perceived for what they are. But to bring your audience into the story, and make them a part of it and you have real magic.

With his attractive and unusual props as well as photos of the sound devices, reading about them is like reading a collection of what we used to call "short, short" stories, for that is what they are. If you never perform one of these routines, you will likely just enjoy the read. AS written, these stories are set in what we perceive to be the cozy but unusual study of Ed Solomon's alter ego, DeNomolos. DeNomolos often has friends over, and their conversations include stories told by DeNomolos, and they, in turn, often include unusual occurrences.

Highly entertaining and recommended.

David Goodsell
October 2003




"Presentations For The Storyteller - THE COMPLETE WORKS OF DeNOMOLOS."

I MUST add my recommendation that you purchase Ed Solomon's latest book, "Presentations For The Storyteller - THE COMPLETE WORKS OF DeNOMOLOS." I was privileged to receive an advance copy to review. It came at a perfect time. I was spending 3 days in the hospital due to a blood bacteria infection and, not being one to watch much TV, I had the pleasure of reading every word of Ed's book. It absolutely captivated me. So much so, I wrote a note back to Ed expressing my delight and he was kind enough to quote me on the back cover. This is what I wrote:

"DeNomolos is one of the grumpiest, long-winded and oddest magicians I know. He is also one of the most brilliant. From his workshop and his mind have come some of the most unusual and diabolically clever magic I have ever had the privilege of learning.

I suspect he draws inspiration from another brilliant story-telling magician, his friend -- Ed Solomon. In fact, I have long suspected DeNomolos' "den" is really a subterranean extension of the abode of Solomon. The combination of their minds suggests a more-than-casual relationship and interaction that lifts magic into realms that far transcend the tricks and puzzles most magicians perform.

If you are a thinking magician who understands that storytelling can raise even common magic tricks onto a higher dimension this is a book for you. You will laugh, cry, cringe and at times scream as you read its pages. They are emotional tales, with magic tricks being the punctuations that give DeNomolos' magic meaning, mystery and substance. UNIQUE is the word!

DeNomolos is "one-of-a-kind" and therefore there is no other magic book like this one. It too is one-of-a-kind. You will be entertained by the grumpy old DeNomolos as he tells his stories and entertains his company, but more -- you will be inspired as you learn how magic can be presented in a way most magicians have never even considered … but should!"

Larry White


Previously Magic Editor, M-U-M


Others here have described the contents so I will not repeat them. But let me tell you that this is a BIG book. It is 8 and 1/2 inches wide by 11 inches tall and 1 and 1/4 inches thick. It contains 503 pages and it weighs almost 3 and 1/4 pounds! Practically every routine is illustrated with photos of the actual props -- these routines are not pipe dreams, Ed has constructed and performed every one. You are buying a lifetime of work.

The book has been expertly edited by Bill Palmer who also did the layout who was thoughtful enough to have it printed in a typeface (Optima) that is larger and easier to read than Ed's E-book publications.

It is a book I will refer to time-and-time again. So will you. The stories are clever and worth rereading. The gimmicks and methods are so clever they inspire other uses.

The book sells for $85. Once you heft the package in comes in you will suspect you received your money's worth. Once you flip through the book you will know you got your money's worth. And once you read the book you will discover you have bought a gold-mine for a steal!

I brought one other book with me to the hospital. Bob Neale's new "This Is Not A Book." I'll tell you about that one tomorrow. It not only IS a book, but it is another gold mine.

In the meantime, order Ed's book. Then write your review for us. While you are waiting for it start writing all the words of praise you can think of -- you will be using them all!

Larry White




The book is a compilation of the first six books of the series called Presentations For The Storyteller.

This compilation is a huge, hard back tome of 500 plus pages.
Shipping weight is almost 5 pounds
* 8 1/2 x 11 x 1 1/4 inches *
Multiple gray scale photos and an easy to read font type with nearly 150 presentations with full script and pictures of the props.
The chapter titles (books included) are:

$85.00 US plus shipping and handling.

This is just now being released so check the website over the next two weeks for specific ordering information.

Okay, the above is the boilerplate info. As to what is inside this volume – and it is a volume – are not only the great stories you would expect from Ed Solomon but more uses for shims, magnets, small recorders, etc. that it becomes mind blowing. You will be amazed at all of the various twists that he has come up with as well as showing you how the props should look.

About Ed's book. You got the basic info in his rant of shameless self promotion. Now for the truth.

As to what is inside this volume – and it is a volume – are not only the great stories you would expect from Ed Solomon but more uses for shims, magnets, small recorders, etc. that it becomes mind blowing. You will be amazed at all of the various twists that he has come up with as well as showing you how the props should look.

Just to cite a few examples, everyone knows the “dead finger” in the box thing but wait until you encounter the “X Rated” version as well as really dressing up the traditional version. Or a moving finger that writes. Now that is weird!

There’s even a new look for a Chick Pan along with so many moans and whispering voices that you will get a whole new outlook on thinking outside – or inside – the box or even in your pockets.

It took me two long nights just to speed read this little jewel. It will now put my brain in overdrive for months with re-reading and then adding more twists for my own use.

This book will help you not only craft the props but give you fantastic insight as to why stories are the true key to our chosen form of entertainment.

Just like a lot of the stories, it really is hard to try and nail down a classification for this book. Its spooky, its mystical, its bizarre, its mental but regardless it will be a seminal work for many years to come.
I’m already chomping at the bit for Volume 2 and Volume 3 to be released.

When you consider that each section was originally done as an e-book and sold for $25.00 each, this is a true bargain. The simple math is you get $150.00 worth of books that stand on their own as one well- done hardbound book for $85.00. Plus, its certainly easier on the eyes.

Lary Kuehn

PS: Traveler and T. Everett are already fighting over who get space in the shop first.


Lary Kuehn