May 20, 2019

Book Review: The Conjurer's Almanaq

I may have gone a little overboard ordering cool puzzles recently. I wanted to scope out the other items that people who might enjoy my puzzle book would also want to read. OK, let’s be honest: I used it as an excuse to finally purchase the cool indie puzzle books accumulating in my Amazon cart. For some reason, I never thought to write up a review for a logic games or interactive book. If you enjoy this review, let me know and I can post some more in the future.

The Conjurer’s Almanaq
By Roy Leban and Emily Dietrich
My Rating: ★★★★

The Conjurer’s Almanaq is the second puzzle book created by Roy Leban. I played through his first book (the first puzzle took over my dining table for over a week as I carefully arranged the 64 pages I was instructed to tear out), Librarian’s Almanaq, which was insanely difficult. However, the first one had instructions on what to do. Here is a puzzle. Now solve. This one does not.

When I saw the tagline, “Escape this book!” I thought this work would be modeled after escape rooms, but that wasn’t really the case. The Conjurer’s Almanaq is presented as just that: an almanac for a novice learning magic. A note at the front says you’ve been sucked into the text and must find and solve the puzzles in order to escape.

To say the puzzles are hidden is an understatement. One could read through the entire book and not notice anything resembling a logic problem. The reader is supposed to identify things which are odd or patterns contained in the words and illustrations. Once you’ve figured out what the hidden pieces are, they still don’t make any sense. There’s a lot of trial and error trying different things to come up with a solution, including (at least in my case) writing a script to check all possible answers until the right one pops up. You do get a satisfying feeling when you solve a problem, but it may take a while to get there. Although there aren’t any hints in the book, there’s a pretty active community sharing tips and solutions.

This book is at a level of difficulty for avid puzzlehunt fans, and I recommend it for experienced solvers. It’s a pretty serious time suck, but if you really enjoy a difficult challenge, you’ll love The Conjurer’s Almanaq.

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