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Take a Bite out of Monique Asher’s ‘Don’t Eat The Pie’

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I know what you’re thinking. It’s finally getting sunny and warm outside. Why are you already dreaming about the coziness of the spooky season, which is still four months away? Well let me tell you, dear reader, for us horror fans, there’s never a wrong time for a thrilling haunt; be it a new horror film or an upcoming novel that is sure to give you thrills and chills. The nice thing about horror novels is that you can take them anywhere, so while you’re relaxing on a beach, you can be deep in the prose of another exciting adventure through the macabre. That’s exactly how I enjoyed Monique Asher’s debut novel, Don’t Eat the Pie.

Unfortunately, you have a bit longer to wait until the book is released to the general public. So while you may not be able to read this year on the beach, it will be out just in time for Halloween. The book is set to release on September 24th, through Rising Action Publishing Co. and distributed by Simon & Schuster.

Should Don’t Eat the Pie be your next haunted preorder? Oh, absolutely it should, as Monique Asher has created something special within its pages and on the shores of Camillia Island. Continue on to find out why this is one of my top reads so far in 2024.

[Note: While I am reviewing this book independently and honestly, it should be noted that I was sent an early copy of this book for the purpose of this review. Warning: light spoilers from Don’t Eat the Pie are below!]

A not-so-fairytale ending for Sam and Emma in Monique Asher’s debut novel

You can’t deny how much single mom Sam and her teenage daughter Emma love each other. It’s been the two of them on their own for as long as Emma can remember, with her father having not really ever been in the picture. There’s nothing the two of them can’t handle, as long as they have each other’s back, which they always do. So when Sam falls in love with Ben, forever changing the dynamics, Emma does her best to accept the changes gracefully. After all, all she’s ever wanted was her mother to be happy.

But Emma, and Sam, for that matter, don’t expect the unexpected baggage that comes with marrying Ben: his mother. When she falls ill and needs help, Ben whisks the new blended family off to Camillia Island, to the exact house that he grew up in.

Both Sam and Emma are hesitant for their own reasons. For Sam, she wants to be the dutiful wife, but trauma from her own parental relationships leaves her jaded and confused about what duty to a mother or father actually means. For Emma, it means a change from her routine and life, even if it’s only for the summer. 

Both mother and daughter attempt to put their best foot forward, making the best of these less-than-ideal situations, but something is off. Sure, everyone living on the island seems nice enough, but in a Stepford Wives sort of way. The island is idyllic and serene, but as the story unfolds in the pages of Don’t Eat the Pie, we learn that everyone has skeletons in their closet and some ghosts just refuse to stay dead.

Don't Eat the Pie
From author Monique Asher’s Twitter @moasherwrites. Don’t Eat the Pie

When Emma starts to see things in the house next door, which happens to be owned by Ben and the home that his ex-wife passed away in, things take a turn for the worse. Can Emma convince her mother that they need to get off the island before it’s too late? Or will the mother-daughter duo become the next victims of whatever horrors are taking place on Camillia Island?

Asher’s Don’t Eat the Pie is a quick read with plenty to chew on

As an avid fantasy and horror reader, at times it feels like there’s a struggle between books that can be easily devoured and also have well-developed characters and plot lines. Novels can either be fast reads, or tomes that describe every food on the table and every prescription in the medicine cabinet. 

It’s something of a miracle, or at least speaks to the immense talent of Asher, that she balances both. Don’t Eat the Pie is one of the quickest books I’ve read this past year, having read it all on vacation to the tropics. Granted, part of the trip was spent on the beach and poolside, but Asher’s book lasted no time, as I couldn’t put it down until I was done with the last chapter. 

That being said, character development isn’t sacrificed for the sake of a quick-paced book. In fact, the characters are thoroughly developed and come to life on the page. You can see how her day job as a therapist has impacted the work because she’s come to know people intimately and translated that easily on the page. What takes some authors dozens of pages to convey, Asher can do with incredible ease. 

It seems even more of a feat when you factor in the topics that the author covers. This isn’t your typical horror novel but dives deep into the psyche of these characters, including their trauma and anxieties. That isn’t an easy thing to do, trust another psychologist who writes for a living as well. But she does, and handles these topics with care, not using her knowledge for exploration, but instead for a better understanding of Sam and Emma. 

Don’t Eat the Pie’s ending leaves me craving more

With this novel being such a quick read and with characters that you come to know and love, my only problem is that I wanted more. The book’s ending, without spoiling anything, feels abrupt. We’d just reached the climax of the story, with the resolution happening pages before, and then it’s over. What! Don’t do me like that, Asher. I needed another 100 pages of follow-up with Sam and Emma! I needed to know if they got their happy ever after!

Honestly, while I could have read another thousand pages of the mother-daughter duo, I respect that the author leaves us with an open end, in true horror fashion. Life isn’t always wrapped up in a pretty little bow, and instead continues on past the pages and screen. Don’t Eat the Pie gives readers just enough to be satiated, but will leave them wanting another bite. Personally, I would have liked a few more chapters to fully appreciate the conclusion that Asher provides.

This Simon & Schuster horror novel is not one to miss

Don’t Eat the Pie is easily one of my new favorite horror books. It has everything I could possibly want from this genre and then some. Asher excels at her craft, sowing a beautifully haunting tapestry from this chapter of Emma and Sam’s lives. This is one horror story that I’ll be devouring over and over, and I know everyone else will also want a slice of this pie. 

Rating: 8/10

Don’t Eat the Pie by Monique Asher will be released on September 24, 2024 and is available for preorder! Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord if you plan on checking this novel out!

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Brian Kitson

Working hard to bring you the latest news and thoughtful analysis of all things nerdy!

Brian Kitson has 358 posts and counting. See all posts by Brian Kitson