Eustace is a sickly boy confined to his bed. He eats soup, has to endure visits from his great-aunts and longs for the day when his hero, his brother Frank, returns home. However, when his Uncle Lucien shows up Eustace’s bedroom becomes a den of prostitutes, booze, and low lives, and Eustace yearns for the loneliness he once tried so desperately to escape from.
Eustace is a really dark comedy. It starts off very sweetly as Eustace tells us of his life and it’s quite…mundane. We get drawn into it though. Harris draws Eustace in a way that makes him so vulnerable, and everything is from his perspective as an eight-year old so it has that naive quality where we can know what’s actually going on, and this makes us care for him all the more, like when we discover that his mother is an alcoholic, although he just thinks that she’s taking medicine.
The book takes a turn for the surreal when he discovers Uncle Lucien and his friend Peter hiding under his bed. They’re on the run from the law and suddenly Eustace’s sanctuary is now a hive of scum and villainy. This leads to some hilarious moments and I found myself laughing a lot. It’s a very dry sense of humour so I’m not sure it’s going to be for everyone but I liked it a lot. It also veers on the tragic towards the end as Eustace gets swept up in this vile community.
I enjoyed Eustace a lot. It starts off rooted in the mundane but quickly spirals into the surreal and while at some points you may wonder whether it is all actually happening, the last page will leave you in no doubt.