Book Review; Devil In Ohio- Daria Polatin

Page Count 327

Publication date October 2022

GoodReads link




-A strange, damaged girl lives with a family after escaping a cult in this debut YA suspense/thriller that was inspired by true events.

When fifteen-year-old Jules Mathis comes home from school to find a strange girl, her mother explains that Mae is one of her patients at the hospital and will be staying with their family for a few days. But shortly after, Mae is wearing Jules’ clothes, sleeping in her bedroom, edging her out of her position on the school paper, and kissing Jules’s crush. Then things get weird.

Jules walks in on a half-dressed Mae, she’s startled to see a pentagram carved into her back. Soon white roses start turning up on the front porch, a rabid dog bites one of Jules’ sisters, and Jules’ parents, who never fight, start arguing behind closed doors.

Jules pieces clues together and discovers that Mae may be a survivor of the strange cult that has taken over a nearby town. And they will stop at nothing to get Mae back.



Hands up, initially I saw the trailer for the Netflix adaptation of this novel. I added it to my October watchlist in preparation for spooky season, not knowing it was based on a novel until I happily discovered the ARC on Netgalley.
Perhaps having seen the trailer for the adaptation I had different expectations of the book, so I’ll try to bear that in mind.

I was taken by surprise by the tone of the writing. It seemed quite juvenile, too simple and full of awkward occurrences where the first person POV addresses the reader in monologue.

‘I realised my face must be in Overly Excited mode’

I got the strong vibe of an adult attempting to write in the voice of a teenager, with no understanding of how a teenager would naturally talk or think. That cringey kind of language out-of-touch parents use when they try too hard to be ‘in with the kids’ so to speak.

There’s a lot of telling rather than showing and heavy emphasis on physical descriptions, what each character is wearing, every mundane movement they make and various other details that give no real insight into character or add anything to the plot.

I persevered nonetheless and after pages of infuriatingly predictable high school dramas I finally reached the peak of the conflict. There were half assed revelations, ridiculously easy escapes and a cliche ending.

Don’t waste your time on this. I’m amazed it’s been adapted for television.

Author: Roxanne Michelle

Dramatic, curly-haired wannabe writer from a nowhere town in Somerset. Stop-starter of all projects great and small. Here to talk books, film, mental health and lifestyle.

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