Nov 7 2017 11:00am

Daria Polatin Excerpt: Devil in Ohio

Daria Polatin

The Devil in Ohio by Daria Polatin is a debut novel and a haunting thriller that explores the dark nature of cults and teen social dynamics.

Read an exclusive excerpt from Devil in Ohio by Daria Polatin, then make sure you're signed in and comment below for a chance to win a copy of her haunting debut!

When fifteen-year-old Jules Mathis comes home from school to find a strange girl sitting in her kitchen, her psychiatrist mother reveals that Mae is one of her patients at the hospital and will be staying with their family for a few days. But soon Mae is wearing Jules’s clothes, sleeping in her bedroom, edging her out of her position on the school paper, and flirting with Jules’s crush. And Mae has no intention of leaving.

Then things get weird.

Jules walks in on a half-dressed Mae, startled to see: a pentagram carved into Mae’s back. Jules pieces together clues and discovers that Mae is a survivor of the strange cult that’s embedded in a nearby town. And the cult will stop at nothing to get Mae back.

Chapter 4

DR. MATHIS: Testing, testing. Is this recording? I pressed the red dot. . . . Okay, looks like it’s working.

[Creaking of bedsprings.]

DR. MATHIS: Oh, you don’t have to get up, you can stay where you are. You had a long night.

[Shuffling of some papers.]

DR. MATHIS: So, I am Dr. Suzanne Mathis, attending psychiatrist at Remingham Regional Hospital, and I’m here to assess how you are doing. I am here with patient—

[No answer.]

DR. MATHIS: Would you mind telling me who you are? We don’t have any identification on file for you yet.

[No answer.]

DR. MATHIS: Your name? Or do you have some kind of ID that the staff might have overlooked?

[Leaning close] Please note that the patient has shaken her head, indicating that she has no ID.

That’s okay. Why don’t you have some water?

[After a short silence, a cup clinks.]

DR. MATHIS: I know you’ve been through something unspeakable. Something you never want to face again, let alone talk about. But I want you to know that I’m here to help you. That is my entire job. To help you work through what happened.

They’re calling you “Lauren Trauma.” That’s your code name in your file. We use it for your own protection, so that only people we give it to can find you. But can I tell you a secret? The ones who we never find out their real name—they’re forgotten, they’re the ones left behind. And we’re not going to let that happen to you.

[A tired, raspy teenage girl’s voice finally speaks.]

MAE: Mae. My name.

DR. MATHIS: Thank you for telling me, Mae. That’s a beautiful name. Do you spell it with a Y?


DR. MATHIS: Wonderful. And your last name?

[No answer.]

DR. MATHIS: Okay. We’ll stick with Mae for now.

So Mae, tell me what you remember from last night. Besides the doctors and tests and all that. Tell me about what happened before you get here.

MAE: I—don’t remember anything.

DR. MATHIS: Nothing at all?

MAE: I remember—the truck driver. He found me. There were bright lights, and then he called the ambulance. I think.

DR. MATHIS: Thank you, that’s what I have here as well. He called the ambulance at 12:52 a.m. It is pretty incredible that he saw you. Police said you were lying nearly fifteen feet from the side of the highway. How did you land so far from the road?

MAE: I don’t know.

DR. MATHIS: Did you jump out of a moving vehicle? Or head into the woods from the road? Or did you maybe come from inside the woods?

MAE: I was in a car. Van. A white one.

DR. MATHIS: Okay, so you were riding in a van. In the passenger seat?

MAE: In the back. I was thrown from there.

DR. MATHIS: You were thrown from a moving vehicle?

MAE: Yes.

DR. MATHIS: By thrown, do you mean that the van hit a bump or something, or it got a flat tire?

MAE: No, by a person.

DR. MATHIS: You were thrown by a person out of the back of a van.

MAE: Maybe that’s why I rolled so far.

[Quiet. Some scribbling.]

MAE: It was two people.

DR. MATHIS: Two people threw you?

MAE: And someone else was driving.

DR. MATHIS: Do you know who threw you?

Do you remember who was driving the van? Or what he—or she—looked like?

MAE: I don’t remember. I’m very tired—

DR. MATHIS: Of course you are. Just a little bit longer. Do you remember anything about them? Any of the people involved? Were they tall, short, thin, heavy?

MAE: They were wearing black.

DR. MATHIS: Black sweaters? Jackets? Pants?

MAE: Long black coats. 

DR. MATHIS: And what about their faces? Could you see what any of them looked like? Do you remember what color anyone’s hair was? Or—

MAE: They were wearing hoods?

DR. MATHIS: Hoods?

MAE: Black hoods.


DR. MATHIS: Mae, where are you from?

MAE: From?

DR. MATHIS: Are you from Ohio? [Leaning in] Note that the patient has nodded affirmative. Where in Ohio are you from? Somewhere nearby?

[Quiet. A sip of water is gulped.]

DR. MATHIS: Mae, I’m going to help you. I’m going to help you stay safe, and help keep you away from whoever did this to you. It won’t be easy, but we’re going to have to trust each other. Can you do that? Can you trust me?

MAE: [Pause.] Okay.

DR. MATHIS: Good, thank you. I’ll trust you too. Okay, this next part might be difficult, but we’re going to get through it. Together. Mae, who did this to you? The carving on your back. Who cut you? Was it someone you knew?

[Leaning close] Please note that the patient is nodding her head yes. Can you tell me who it was? The more I know, the more I can help you. Was it someone from your family?

You’re nodding yes.

MAE: Mmm-hmm.

DR. MATHIS: Was it your—father?

[No answer.]

DR. MATHIS: Mae, most abuse happens from within the family. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, because none of it is your fault. Do you understand that? None of it is your fault.

Was it your dad, or an uncle?

MAE: Yes.

DR. MATHIS: Which one was it?

[After a long pause.]

MAE: Both.


MAE: I need to rest now—

DR. MATHIS: Are you sure you don’t want to tell me—

MAE: I’m so tired.

DR. MATHIS: [Leaning into the microphone] Note that the patient has closed her eyes and is no longer responsive.

Copyright © 2017 Daria Polatin.

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Devil in Ohio Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry at https://www.criminalelement.com/stories/2017/11/daria-polatin-excerpt-devil-in-ohio-comment-sweepstakes beginning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) November 7, 2017. Sweepstakes ends 9:59 a.m. ET November 21, 2017. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.


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Daria Polatin is an award-winning playwright and television writer. She holds an MFA from Columbia University, and her new play Palmyra, about a young woman who joins ISIS, will be presented in New York and Los Angeles. She is a founding member of The Kilroys, an advocacy group for female and trans writers that promotes gender equality in the American theater, and is a writer for the Amazon TV series Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, starring John Krasinski. Daria is of Egyptian heritage and grew up traveling on five continents, loves hiking and inventing recipes, and lives in Los Angeles. Devil in Ohio is her debut novel. dariapolatin.com.

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Mary Ann Woods
2. puttputt1198eve
Love reading about cults and this one sounds great!
4. Marlana
Sounds really good. I grew up in Ohio. Sometimes, I miss those days.
9. Stacy
This looks amazing!!!!
Michael Carter
10. rubydog
Yes, please enter me in this sweepstakes.
Thanks ---
12. beejay8084
I love thrillers, this sounds so good!
13. Melissa F.
Sounds interesting!
14. Kathryn Arevalo
So far...excellent! I can't wait to read it!!! Looks good!
15. Phyllis Bernstein
Excerpt and summary so intriguing. Wish excerpt was longer. Can't wait to read this!
ellie lewis
16. italia
Captivating. Love this intriguing feature.
pearl berger
17. beach
Excerpt enthralling. Thanks for this giveaway.
19. Storm992472
Sounds very interesting. Thank you for the chance.
Pearl Berger
21. Sunshine
Great Excerpt. Look forward to this book.
Vernon Luckert
23. vl4095
Looks like a good one - would love to win!
24. dnewsome3
All I can say is it already hooked me in, and that's hard to do so quickly. Thank you for the chance to win.
Dawn Newsome
25. dnewsome3
This book has already hooked me. Thank you for the chance to win.
Lori Provenzano
26. Mountainesque
Agree that the creepiness factor here is very high! I'm sure this book would keep the reader captive.
27. beautyandthebookreviews
This sounds really creepy and fascinating. I love the sound of a cult thriller and I love that the main characters name is Jules. Thanks so much for the chance!
vickie dailey
28. kidcurry
great exceprt. sounds like the kind of book I like to read.
30. SandySL
I've been eyeing this novel for a while now. Would love to read it.
Lorri S
31. lorrij7
Another interesting book I would enjoy reading.
susan beamon
32. susanbeamon
Oh, this book sounds good. I want it in my library.
36. Karyn Rexelle
Sounds interesting and creepy. Right up my alley! Would love to read the whole book
38. Polly Barlow
Is this based on any fact, is there a cult such as this in Ohio? If it all made up, I think I would like to read it.
Susan Morris
39. Samfor3
This book looks like a winner! Hope to win a copy. Thanks for the chance.
40. Jenn
Looks super creepy, right up my alley!
Robert Grieco
44. RobG
Love a good thriller based in Ohio! :)
Jane Schwarz
48. Janeschwarz
Wow! Intense excerpt. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of "Devil in Ohio".
Pat Murphy
49. murphyp2011
Live in Ohio so I read any mystery with Ohio as a locale.
Rena Sollish
54. Rena
This looks really good! I'd love to win it.
55. Shannon Baas
I wouldl like this.
Sandy Klocinski
56. attea2d
Looks like an interesting read. My brother and my daughter live in Ohio. Thanks for the opportunity to win
58. DR
Adding to my TO READ LIST now!
Sab Edwards
70. binabug
I'd be seriously interested in this if its more YA then adult lol
Susan Mahaffey
71. Smbirds
It's very intriguing. I would love to read it!
Rhonda Stefani
75. RStefani72
Wow, this sounds like a terrific one! I'm completely intrigued already and would love to read more! Going to add this to my want-to-read shelves right now!
Jeanette Jackson
76. lindahl
I'd like to read this one. Please include me in the drawing.
77. Carla Thompson
Since I live in Ohio, I like to get books set there, so I'd love to win this.
Tricha Leary
83. trichie
sounds like one you wont be able to put down
84. Trisha McKee
This looks amazing! A great read.
85. Leela
Thanks for the giveaway!
Linda Peters
88. linnett
would love this for my winter reading, thanks
89. Stephanie Liske
Thank you.
Terry Hodges
This book sounds very interesting and would love to read it!!
Carl White
92. CarlWhiteEntry
Jules walks in on a half-dressed Mae, startled to see: a pentagram carved into Mae’s back...sounds like a typical first date for me.
93. Fredrick Pauly
sounds good.
94. Fredrick Pauly
sounds good.
96. helen martin
She sounds like she was traumatized.
Philip Lawrence
97. Pooch
I always thought the Devil was in Ohio!
Beverly Steuver
100. bsteuver
Sounds like this would be a good book to read!
Beverly Steuver
100. bsteuver
Sounds like this would be a good book to read!
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