Is Devil in Ohio Based on a True Story or a Book?

Devil in ohio

New Netflix’s limited series Devil in Ohio truly has an interesting premise. It revolves around a girl named Mae Dodd (Madeleine Arthur) and psychiatrist Suzanne Mathis (Emily Deschanel) who welcomes her into her home as a temporary guardian. Mae Dodd was discovered by police in a region of Ohio famous for devil worshipping and similar occult activities. At first, it’s clear that Mae Dodd is a troubled girl, but things get interesting (and dangerous) when Suzanne Mathis discovers that Mae Dodd is a part of a devil-worshiping cult herself. Considering that the occult is still prevalent today, it’s not too big of a stretch to assume that the series was inspired by some real-life event or a person. Let’s see whether Devil in Ohio was based on a true story or rather a book.

New Netflix’s series Devil in Ohio was based on a book written by Daria Polatin, and the book was in turn inspired by real-life events. Due to the sensitive nature of the case and the events, Daria Polatin wasn’t specific about the events that inspired the book only that she took creative liberties while creating the novel. That means that the book itself is only partially inspired by real-life events. 

Now that you got the short answer it’s time to analyze the matter in more detail. What is the book Devil in Ohio about and what was the event that inspired it in the first place? If you’re interested stay with us!

Is the show Devil in Ohio inspired by a book? 

Yes, Devil in Ohio was inspired by a book and we already covered that part. Now let’s analyze the details of the book as well without spoiling the story. Mae Dodd is discovered by the police, and Suzzane Mathis a psychiatrist takes her in. Suzanne Mathis has a younger daughter, Jules whose life is soon taken over by Mae Dodd. Mae Dodd starts wearing Jules’ clothes, she starts taking over her after-school activities, Mae even sets her sight on Jules’ crush.

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Things take a turn for the worse when Jules walks in on Mae while she is dressing, she notices that Mae has a pentagram carved into her back. After that event, Jules’ life starts falling apart and things get dangerous and creepy real fast. Jules soon discovers that Mae is actually a runaway from a religious cult based in a neighboring town and well, they’re trying to get her back before she “spills the beans”. So yes, the show will follow the events of the books. And those events are rooted in reality. 

What is the event that inspired Devil in Ohio book and Netflix series? 

Daria Polatin was not specific when it comes to the details of the events. As she stated in an interview for Netflix Tudum, it was actually a story that executive producer Rachel Miller heard that inspired the book Devil in Ohio. The real-life story is similar to the events of the book (and show), a girl ran away from a satanic cult based in Ohio and she lived with a psychiatrist. The identity of the girl as well as the details of her case were never revealed of course due to privacy concerns.

In another interview for The Columbus Dispatch, Daria Polatin confirmed this as well, stating that the book and the show are loosely based on real-world events since she wanted to have some creative freedom. The book, of course, was even written to appeal to the young-adult audiences it’s in no way a documentary or a recreation of the event, the event was only used as a starting point that sparked the whole book.

The showrunners as well as Daria Polatin created a fictional cult “Devil’s Own” for the show. They went to great lengths to make the experience as authentic as possible. They studied numerous religious cults and came up with their own, the bible “The Book of Covenants” from the show (and the book) is fictional and was created for the purpose of the Devil In Ohio. The ideology from the book was created by Daria Polation and her team and is only inspired by real-world cults and their ideologies. 

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They didn’t actually have to venture far from Ohio to get inspired since Ohio is infamous for occult activity, primarily Kirtland in Ohio. It was the home of a cult led by Jeffrey Lundgren that was revolving around intentionally wrong interpretations of the Bible. Jeffrey Lundgren as well as a couple of his followers killed Avery Family, a family of five for their betrayal of the cult. Jeffrey Lundgren was tried, found guilty, and executed by lethal injection back in 2006. 

The fact that the Devil in Ohio was inspired by real-world events only makes it more intriguing and we can’t wait to see how everything plays out. The series Devil in Ohio is available to watch on Netflix from September 2. 

  • Valentina Kraljik

    Valentina Kraljik is a writer and editor at Fiction Horizon with a passion for exploring the world of media. With a degree in Information Sciences, she brings a unique and informed perspective to her work. Valentina's writing covers a wide range of topics connected to TV shows, m...