Recommended for ages 13+
A falling star crashes into the marshes on a planet called Kuldor and a young woman’s life is forever changed. Fifteen year-old Hadara is the wilder child of her parents’ two daughters, the “natural” to her younger sister’s “pious”. Living under a strict religious rule, where medicine is heresy and only magic provided by their god, Nihil, is acceptable, Hadara longs to join her mother, who clandestinely gathers herbs and plants to keep handy for quiet requests.
The star brings religious leaders and soldiers to Port Sapphire, where Hadara and her family live. The leaders insist that a demon inhabits the star, and they must go into the marshes to retrieve it: and Hadara and her mother are pressed into service to lead them there. Hadara, whose faith has already been tested by the priests and the soldiers’ presence, finds herself chafing under the continued requests put upon her and the behaviors she witnesses, but this is only the beginning. The things she will discover on her journey will throw everything she’s ever been taught to believe into chaos. Is she strong enough to emerge unscathed?
The Temple of Doubt is sci-fi/fantasy, but readers will find many parallels to our current religious and socio-political climate today. The reliance on a deity to heal – but only if you have enough faith – versus faith in medicine and nature; the right of the religious right to tread wherever they feel is necessary to root out evil, and the struggle of a young woman dealing with coming of age and questioning her faith and beliefs are all very familiar scenarios that will draw readers into Ms. Levy’s story.
There is a great deal of world-building that will appeal to some readers, but may not catch reluctant or struggling readers. Focus on the teenage aspects of the story – rebellion, frustration, sibling rivalry, and questioning – to spark a lively booktalk. The Temple of Doubt an interesting first book in a series that should appeal to sci-fi and fantasy readers.