One girl. One bullet. One dead man. One hundred souls to save.
"Vaya con dios, bitch."
The Black Parade is a 2013 urban fantasy/paranormal novel by Kyoko M.One bullet is all it took to transform 18-year-old New Yorker Jordan Amador into the last hope for souls of the dead. However, it also transformed her into a cantankerous asocial waitress with a drinking problem.Jordan accidentally shot and killed a Seer: a person who can communicate with ghosts, angels, and demons. Worse still, she did so on the eve of her own awakening, making her the last Seer on Earth with no one to guide her. As penance, God gives her two years to help one hundred souls with unfinished business cross over from Earth to the afterlife or she will go to Hell. Just as she approaches the deadline, Jordan finds her hundredth soul: a smart-mouthed poltergeist named Michael whose ability to physically touch things makes him distinct from her usual encounters with the dead. However, the deeper she delves solving his sudden death, the more she realizes something sinister is on the horizon.With time running short, Jordan stumbles across a plot that may unravel the fragile balance among Heaven, Hell, and Earth. Her life is plunged into chaos as she is hunted by demons that want to use her valuable Seer blood to bring about the end of the world and discovers that these creatures have a frightening connection to her family bloodline. Furthermore, the budding romance between Jordan and Michael makes it harder for them to let go of each other so he can become part of the eternal black parade.Not to be confused with the My Chemical Romance album, although that is where the novel draws its inspiration and title. The novel also roughly bases its mythology after John Milton's Paradise Lost, which is why it is separated into three "books"—Book One, The Black Parade; Book Two, In Medias Res; Book Three, The Beautiful Descent.The Black Parade has two sequels planned for 2014 and 2015 releases. The second novel is entitled She Who Fights Monsters. There are interviews with the author here, here, and here.Spoilers ahead.This novel provides examples of:
Above the Influence: Michael manages not to take advantage of the drunken Jordan, but even he can’t resist kissing her before she falls asleep.
All Girls Want Bad Boys: Played with, as Michael (while human/poltergeist) has some bad boy charm to him and Jordan likes him more than she's willing to admit, but once he gets his body back, he's much more responsible and level-headed. It's ultimately averted with Belial, who manages to tempt her, but fails in winning her soul.
All Your Powers Combined: The only way to kill the false angel is to form a trinity of attack, defense, and healing powers through Jordan.
Alternate History: In the world of The Black Parade, the events of Paradise Lost essentially happened—not to every fine detail, but much of it did occur. Michael is very vague on the matter but he mentions that Milton had some divine assistance when he wrote it.
Amateur Sleuth: Jordan is a subversion. No one hires her to solve the ghosts' deaths; she's tasked with it in order to redeem her soul from damnation. It's also notable that she has to do most of it on her own without any help from the police in order to avoid suspicion.
Anywhere but Their Lips: A non-romantic example between Gabriel and Jordan. He always kisses her on the forehead above her right eye as a sign of affection and to be clear that his love for her is non-sexual.
Asexuality: Explored with the angels. Initially, some ancient angels were attracted to human beings but because of the natural order, the angel’s bodies were later engineered not to produce children. Michael and Uriel are the only two angels after that time to fall in love with human beings.
Big Brother Mentor: Gabriel has some tendencies of this trope. He is often willing to give Jordan advice and genuinely cares about her, and shares a similar relationship with Michael, his actual brother.
Bilingual Bonus: There are several instances where Spanish speakers have the advantage of understanding dialogue between Jordan and her aunt.
Black Gal on White Guy Drama: Jordan gets a taste of this when she attends Terrell’s funeral with Michael as Terrell’s mother disapproves of interracial dating.
Blood Magic: Mentioned as Belial needs Jordan’s blood to open a portal into Michael’s body.
Bodyguard Crush: Michael explains that his reason for becoming Jordan's bodyguard is that he owes her for her sacrifice to restore his life, but that's not quite the whole story as their friendship continues. It's clear that he has some sort of feelings for her at that point, but neither of them have figured it out just yet so they leave the issue be.
Book Ends: The book begins and ends with a death of someone Jordan loves.
Break the Cutie: Belial tries this several times on Jordan, but is only successful when he reveals that he murdered Terrell and inhabited his body to trap her.
Clothing Damage: Played with on both the male and female front. Michael's t-shirt gets trashed in the fight at the hospital, but the wound distracts Jordan more than his shirtlessness; Jordan's Little Black Dress gets ripped up after a helllhound attacks her.
Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The angels’ wings all have white bases with metallic sheens to them (Gabriel is gold, Michael is silver, Raphael is bronze) while the demons’ wings are dark, earthy colors (Belial is black, Mulciber is brown).
Dark and Troubled Past: Jordan spent her entire childhood being physically and emotionally abused by her aunt. As a result, she rarely discusses anything regarding before she accidentally killed Andrew. It's also the main reason she refuses to let anyone in as she's afraid of being hurt again.
Defrosting Ice Queen: Jordan's awfully prickly at first, but the more time she spends with Michael, the more she opens up.
Demonic Possession: Discussed. Demons cannot possess living human beings because two souls cannot share a body. They almost never attempt possessions because it is a violent process that rarely works out. However, Belial skirts the rules a bit by first killing Jordan’s ex and using his body to lure her into his clutches. This only worked because he stayed far away enough from Michael that he didn’t know he was around.
Demon Lords and Archdevils: Belial and Mulciber are the only ones who appear, but Michael mentions that there are five total: Belial, Mulciber, Moloch, Mammon, and Beelzebub. They are known as archdemons, or alternatively, the Princes of Hell—Lucifer's most loyal and powerful followers.
Flash Step: Belial and Mulciber both demonstrate this ability on Jordan.
Flirting Under Fire: Jordan and Michael (despite the latter being dead when they meet) have more than a little chemistry while she has three days left before her soul remains damned and there’s an archdemon after her.
For the Evulz: Majority of Belial’s desire for Jordan is based on this.
Genre Savvy: Jordan. She had enough foresight to hide Gabriel’s feather on her when they left to help Jacob crossover. She also knew that if Mulciber got an inkling that she had it, she'd kill her without hesitation, so she played dumb in order to wait for the opportune moment to strike back.
She also immediately starts back with self-defense training after being stabbed with the Spear of Longinus as she predicts Belial will come for her again, and soon.
Ghost Amnesia: All the ghosts who stay behind instead of crossing over lose their memories but they eventually regain them with help from Seers. Usually seeing a particular person or place reminds them of what they’ve forgotten.
Good People Have Good Sex: Good enough that Michael remarks that he's impressed that Jordan doesn't have sex all day, every day because their first time was just that enjoyable. It's also implied they did it several times before Jordan fell asleep as it's been hours when she wakes up.
Go Seduce My Arch Nemesis: Centuries ago, Belial ordered this of a Seer named Zora so she will bond with one of the angels and allow him to spy on them from the inside.
Green-Eyed Epiphany: Literally. Michael seemed to be struggling with his feelings for Jordan as to whether they were real or simply lust caused by his human body and doesn’t address it directly until Jordan calls him out on it.
Hannibal Lecture: Belial gives Jordan one during their second fight in the psychiatric hospital. She later shuts him up.
Held Gaze: Recurring theme between Jordan and Michael. He can always tell when she's trying to retreat within herself because she breaks eye contact, so often he'll turn her face back towards him in order to get the truth.
Hell Hound: One appears before Jordan just after she leaves for her "not-date" with Terrell. Michael explains that hellhounds are a result of Loophole Abuse by the demons, who corrupt stray dogs into hellhounds to do their bidding.
Hellish Pupils: Belial and Mulciber. Michael explains that it's the mark of an archdemon, who are considered to be royalty as they are Lucifer's lieutenants. It should be noted that the first time Jordan meets Belial in a nightmare, she is immediately wary of his eyes despite not knowing who or what he is.
Heroic BSOD: Happens to Jordan when she finds out Terrell had been murdered and Belial was impersonating him to get close to her.
Heroic Sacrifice: Jordan. She gets better. Also, Jordan’s mother. Though she doesn’t.
I Need a Freaking Drink: Surprisingly averted in Book Three, when Jordan confronts her alcohol dependence and decides not to drown her sorrows in booze.
I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: After telling Jordan about the Marriage of the Souls, Michael offers to leave her be because he loves her enough to want her to be safe and happy even if it removes him from the picture.
A Man Is Not a Virgin: Averted entirely with Michael. He shows no signs of being ashamed that he's never been with a woman as angels are expected not to fraternize with human beings. It also bears mentioning that after he and Jordan finally sleep together, he admits that he's impressed she doesn't have sex twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.
Our Angels Are Different: The angels only have two rules: one, to protect and serve mankind; two, do not reveal themselves to normal people. Furthermore, all angels are sterile to prevent the birth of nephilim. Michael explains that their abilities range from super speed and strength to the ability to heal injuries with spiritual energy.
Parental Substitute: Though their interactions were brief, Andrew is a version of this for Jordan, which is all the more meaningful considering he was in love with her mother.
Perpetual Frowner: Jordan. More in public, though, so people will leave her alone and not question her seemingly strange actions.
Pet the Dog: Aunt Carmen sends Jordan the letters that Andrew wrote her through her childhood as an apology for how she treated her in the past.
"If it weren’t for your cruelty, your cowardice, your selfishness, and your ignorance, then the woman standing behind me might not have come to be. It’s not your fault that your mother treasured your younger sister more than you and showered her with love and praise. I know how that must have made you feel. You became bitter and resented the both of them, so as soon as the opportunity presented itself, you leapt into action to betray your sister. When the hospital called to hand custody of Jordan over to you, it was like Christmas morning, wasn’t it? What better revenge on Catalina then to break her daughter beyond repair? But then something happened, something unexpected. That girl you worked so hard to destroy grew up and became the very person you hated the most. She is beautiful, kind, intelligent, and full of life. I’ve been around for a very long time, Mrs. Durante. Her kind of radiance is rare in this world. So I hope for your sake that you someday have enough sense to ask for her forgiveness because if you don’t…there is a place waiting for you where they won’t take as much pity on you as I have. You have a nice evening, ma’am.”
To Constantine: As Jordan regains consciousness after being stabbed with the Spear of Longinus, she wonders if she'll see Peter Stormare wearing all white waiting for her at the gates of hell. She also makes a joke about cats being "half in and half out."
Shut Up, Hannibal!: Jordan to Belial, twice. First, when he tries to convince her she should become his servant and shortly afterwards when Belial tries to pull a “If You Kill Me You Will Be Just Like Me” on Jordan, but she shuts him up by saying she’ll just deal with their similarities.
Stupid Sexy Friend: Amusingly enough, Jordan and Michael both have this problem with each other; the former drops this term verbatim, in fact.
Take That: Jordan makes one at Twilight when she finds out what Michael had been doing the day he met her (mainly creeping around her apartment while she slept.)
Talking in Your Dreams: Jordan speaks with Belial for the first time in a nightmare, but it’s also shown that it’s a form of communication used by angels and demons alike. Catalina mentioned speaking to Gabriel in a dream after her capture.
Too Kinky to Torture: Belial is quite fond of pain, it seems, since he experiences it so rarely in his human form. Yet another reason why he’s so attracted to Jordan—she has a penchant for hitting him.
Tragic Keepsake: Jordan held on to Mr. N’s duster as a reminder of her penance.
Tranquil Fury: Jordan, when she finds out Mulciber was responsible for her mother’s abduction.
Michael, too, when he confronts Jordan’s aunt.
Trauma Conga Line: Jordan, so much. Shall we recap? When Jordan is 5 years old, her mother gets abducted and commits suicide, she is physically abused by her aunt for a decade, she accidentally shoots and kills her father figure, she gets kidnapped and murdered by a demon, gets beaten up twice by two different demons, gets her arm broken at the elbow, and finally is choked unconscious by one of them in the middle of a war.
Tsundere: Jordan is the Type A variety. She eventually grows out of it.
Twofer Token Minority: Jordan manages to be a threefer minority—a female who is half-black and half-Spanish. Her best friend Lauren is a straighter example.
The Unfavorite: Michael implies that this is part of the reason why Aunt Carmen hated Catalina, and subsequently Jordan, so much. One can infer that he might have already known some of their background after meeting Jordan, but he chose to let her put the facts together for herself.
Unresolved Sexual Tension: Occurs between Jordan and Michael all through the first two books and gets resolved in the third. Thoroughly.
Jordan and Belial have tons of this, overlapping with Foe Yay.