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Lain and Jess offers enough magic realism to keep you captivated

Lain and Jess

Short story collection, Efehan Elbi, 30 pgs, efehan.elbi@gmail.com, $3

Dawson’s Creek is coming to mind — possibly for the first time since Dawson’s Creek ended. Lain, Jess and the scenes that populate this collection are straight out of Capeside: high school melodrama peppered with mature, but believable, conversation.

The title characters (and the other teens we meet in Lain and Jess) are pulled from Efehan Elbi’s 2015 novel, Moonlines. At least one of these stories, he states, is prequel material. In the first, Lain writes a delusions-of-grandeur-heavy school essay about her summer vacation. In another, Lain and Jess flee a group of seniors during some sort of grade nine hazing ritual. In the most satisfying piece, Lain skips town with a naïve (and possibly disturbed) boy that she just met.

Elbi’s prose could use some editing from an unacquainted eye. Spelling and continuity errors intrude a little too often, but on the whole, the slip-ups don’t sully the storytelling. Lain is the collection’s most prominent character, and in short order, Elbi paints a complete picture of her as a flawed but likeable person.

While the Creek stayed (arguably) down-to-earth, these stories are elevated by subtle injections of magic realism and enough suspense to keep you hooked until the end. Lain and Jess serves as a tantalizing appetizer for Elbi’s novel.

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