Draven Reviews: The Scarlet Monte by Malcolm Norton

approvedTitle: The Scarlet Monte
Artist: Malcolm Norton
Producers: Magic Tao
Link: Available At Your Favorite Murphy’s Magic Dealer
Retail Price: $25.00 USD
Learning Difficulty: Easy
Length of Video: 23 Minutes (Approx)

• Cards
• Gaff Cards
• Download Instructions and Link


Demo Video
I love writing long winded in depth reviews. I love ripping into the context of a product and trying to capture every bit of what I see in it as artfully as I can with words. Most of the time I get tricks that allow me to really do that with. However with the Scarlet Monte that’s not the case. There really isn’t much to discuss here. Malcolm Norton has created a fun little card routine with either a story based presentation or a Monte like based presentation that focuses around the story of the Scarlet Pimpernel. If you’re not literarily proficient then his is a story about an English Dandy who saved a bunch of rich aristocrats from the guillotine back in the French Revolution. There were daring escapes, sword fights, dangerous acts of daring do, it’s basically the stuff Errol Flynn movies were made of. I don’t know… Did Errol do the 1934 Scarlet Pimpernel movie? If he didn’t man did he miss an opportunity with that one. Anyways I digress. The Scarlet Monte is a card trick that plays on that legend.

Moves wise it’s pretty straightforward. I think the hardest move is an Elmsley count, which Magic Tao seems to love since it’s in most of their products. The set comes with three black cards and a red card. Mine were Kings and Eights. The kings represent the French looking for the Scarlet Pimpernel making the red eight, yup; you guessed it. Sir Percy himself. That’s the Pimpernel’s name; Sir Percy Blakeney. (My high school English Lit teacher must be so proud of herself right now) The red eight gets sandwiched between the black kings as they try to guard it against escape only to be fooled as the eight vanishes from sight. All of this is done as you recant the poem about the Pimpernel in an effort to tie in literature to otherwise a rather mundane card effect. Arguably the most exciting thing about this routine isn’t the magic but the source you draw the story from. If anything this serves as a good lesson as to how presentation and storytelling can make any mundane card trick more interesting.

The product is packaged in a single DVD cardboard sleeve. But you don’t get a DVD. Instead you get instructions to download the video off Murphy’s Magic website. Magic Tao is really good at producing excellent quality tutorials even if they are downloaded offline. This makes this an excellent company for new magicians to buy from because the range of complexity of their products usually isn’t anything too hard, and they do produce some fun magic to play with.

So is it practical? It’s a good packet trick. You’re not going to be using the cards for anything else, so if you’re into those kinds of things then you’ll like it. If you’re a storyteller, like me, then you may find some value in being able to work a classic like the Scarlet Pimpernel into your magic routines. However from a magical point of view the routine is tired, played out, boring, and nothing that we haven’t seen a thousand times in other incarnations which makes its price tag of $25 dollars something to serious consider. So many other card tricks out there make a single card vanish, reappear, vanish again only to comeback in an impossible location. Considering this trick doesn’t come with a DVD, it’s just cards, gimmicks, and a link to a downloaded instructional video that price tag is a tough one to justify. If it was more along the lines of $15 bucks then I’d say it’s a solid deal. But at $25 dollars this moves it more into an “ehhh” position for me. I just don’t see that much value in it. It’s a great trick for new comers to magic, but I feel veterans may pan this as something of niche interest.
When I give my product scores below I am measuring them on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 Being absolute the worst score possible, and 10 being the absolute best, making a score of five average. The four points that I grade upon is Product Quality, Teaching Quality, Sound & Video Quality and Overall Quality.

Product Quality: 6
This was a bit over priced. The magic is pretty basic and boring. The story telling is what makes this unique.

Teaching Quality: 9
Not bad for a downloaded video.

Video & Sound Quality: 8
The sound and video are pretty good for a download.

Overall Quality: 7
Not bad, but not great either. If it wasn’t for the literary tie-in and the story telling aspect this would be something I would pass on.
Have a product you want reviewed? Want to see if it will stand up to the Draven Seal of Approval? Contact me directly at draven@williamdraven.com to find out how your product could be on the next Draven Reviews! Don’t forget to like my blog where all my reviews are posted at http://www.williamdraven.wordpress.com.


About William Draven

William Draven is a professional magician and sideshow performer living in Los Angeles, California. Follow him on Twitter at WilliamDraven or on facebook at www.facebook.com/thewilliamdraven
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