More Than an Echo
(2010) is the first novel in the seven-book Echo Branson
series by author Linda Kay Silva, a World, American, British, Asian, and Women’s Literature Professor at a military university. Part supernatural thriller, part mystery novel, and part lesbian romance, More Than an Echo
follows the adventures of a paranormally gifted empath whose dawning powers lead her to uncover a terrifying truth about the homeless population of San Francisco and to find a makeshift family that understands what it is like to be not quite human.
The protagonist of the novel grows up in the foster care system, passed from one family to another, and without a solid understanding of who her own parents were. For 14 years, she is known simply as Jane Doe; she does her best to take up as little space as possible. However, when Jane enters puberty, she starts to feel things that other people don’t seem to—the emotions and thoughts of those around her. One day, when the high school football team’s linebacker threatens to assault one of her friends, Jane feels both his aggression and her friend’s fear. To protect the girl, Jane beats up the football player so severely—and has so little ability to explain why she did so—that she is thrown into a psychiatric hospital.
Luckily, she escapes from the psych ward, making her way to the Louisiana Bayou, where she will learn how to control whatever is happening to her, and where she will finally meet people who understand and welcome her. After meeting Melika, an older supernatural who becomes her teacher and mentor, Jane learns that she has paranormal powers—and that there are others like her. Under Melika’s guidance, Jane trains to harness her abilities, beginning to use them for a purpose. She discovers that her empathy allows her to “detect a lie a mile away and underwater” and to sense the emotions of those around her.
Jane joins Melika’s band of misfit supers, who have other talents, such as telekinesis, necromancy (or the ability to speak to the dead), and pyrokinesis. In particular, Jane bonds with Tiponi Redhawk, the Native American supernatural woman, although the two instinctively suppress their growing romantic feelings for one another because the small band is in a lot of danger from outside forces. Jane also doesn’t trust herself to get attached to anyone since she has never really learned what that kind of attachment looks and feels like.
When Jane turns 18 years old, she is finally free to give up the anonymous name she has been saddled with since childhood. Renaming herself Echo Branson, she decides to make her own way in the world.
We catch up with her again when she is 28 years old, forging a career as an investigative reporter and trying her best to appear normal in a world that doesn’t accept the existence of people with superpowers. Most people would reject her if they knew the truth, and there are forces in the world that would hunt her down to use her for ill.
Echo picks up and follows a story that will expose evil in the heart of San Francisco: The city’s homeless population is slowly disappearing. No one knows where they have gone, and there don’t seem to be any clues left behind.