I enjoyed the premise of the story very much, the mix of modern world with old folklore. The house spirit was at times friendly and at times terrifying. The two spirits, Katie having brought the spirit from her new restaurant home, fighting over the old restaurant (Seconds) leads to darkness and despair. Both spirits rely heavily on Katie to correct the "mistakes" she thought needed fixing.
This graphic novel fell flat otherwise. All of the characters, other than Hazel, had no redeeming qualities. I could not for the life of me understand why Lis (the Seconds house spirit) ever showed herself to Katie or even offered her the use of the mushrooms. I understand Lis had to deal with the "boss" of the house, but surely Lis wanting to save Hazel from a bad fate was not worth the trouble dealing with Katie would bring.
Katie is a very unlikable protagonist. She inserts herself into everyone's business at Seconds, the place she has already left. Unable to let go, she instead is gripping too tightly, even still being called and considered "boss." This causes rifts and jealousy. Everything that goes wrong for Katie is due to her own selfishness. It is hard to feel sympathetic for her. Sure her new business is taking longer to come together than she would like, but her behaviour towards her former business is laughable.
Katie's boyfriend Max is a real piece of work, and you wish the relationship would end immediately after beginning again. He originally left Katie because he was angry at not being included in her dream for a new restaurant, then when she "corrects" this he takes over her dream entirely and makes it his own. He is a misogynistic asshole, who she just kind of gives in to (which makes you like her even less). Their relationship is self serving, destructive and problematic; in fact, I was disappointed in their ending. I thought it could have, and maybe should have, ended differently.
I did enjoy the drawing style. Very manga-esque; manga meets Western Culture (much like O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim comic). The characterization makes the story more vivid and haunting. The scenes with the tree and the different versions of Seconds, with the red dresser in the trunk, is both poetic and prophetic. The more mistakes Katie corrects the darker the illustrations become. The second spirit is a shadow of Katie, the pieces of Katie she is leaving behind, as though she herself is ripping her world apart.
Even is I did not like the characters, this graphic novel was a poignant look at accepting the life you are living, mistakes and all. Being happy where you are, and with who you have become. It is about owning up to your mistakes, instead of trying to erase them. Embracing your flaws and moving forward.
You can see the illustrations darkening and becoming more macabre as Katie disjoints her world.