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Publisher Description

Cambodia’s mystic class of healers, counselors, and fortunetellers channel spirits, read fortunes in numbers and cards, and inscribe enchantments in flesh. But technology and modernity are changing these roles and rituals. 

Vanishing Act tracks down these singular people to document their lives. It paints vivid portraits of people who live with one foot in the mundane and another in the magical.

With 100 pages of interviews, dozens of photos, interactive maps and photo galleries, and nearly an hour of video, this enhanced edition of Vanishing Act takes you inside our quest for magic, so you can experience it firsthand. From Song Sokheng, who channels two child spirits, to a sorcerer who relies on numerology (and a healthy respect for authority) to care for nine wives and dozens of children, the mystics, monks, and mediums in Vanishing Act tell amazing stories that you won’t find anywhere else.

March 8
Ryun Patterson
Ryun Patterson

Customer Reviews

Duxgrad ,


This book is a beautiful description of the magic that is disappearing in Cambodia. The narrative, pictures and videos make me feel like I am experiencing it in person. Well done.

MB_Naper ,


Vanishing Act has it all--great interviews and back stories on Cambodia's most interesting "healers," stunning photography, and video that brings everything to life. I'm just blown away. You don't read this book, you experience it.

I'm looking forward to the book's broad release so more people can access the wonderful research Ryun and his team of explorers put together. This is the material of an art exhibit, a research paper, a documentary, and a neighborhood book club discussion all in one. Free up some space on your iPad and buy this book!

Khmer language learner ,

Great for anyone interested in Cambodia, magic, and culture

This book is a fantastic resource for anyone interested in Cambodian culture, magic, and traditional healing/knowledge. The text is written in an approachable style and the reader feels as if you're making the journey along with Ryun. He interviews 11 subjects, from monks to lay people, men and women, and Buddhists and (one) Muslim. There is a great diversity in the types of magic practiced by these healers, spirit mediums, and fortune-tellers and it is a treat to be able to hear their stories on how they came to practicing magic. Ryun is also careful to contextualize their professions not only in the broader context of a vanishing aspect of Cambodian culture, but also noting how dangerous it can be, as several sorcerers have been killed for perceived slights by their community. The photographs are luscious, and capture each subject in their own space. Perhaps the most important aspect of the iBooks version are audio and video files containing interviews with each of the subjects, in their own words. Khmer-langauge speakers will be especially appreciative of this. The book left me wanting to know more! Great job.

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