Told from the perspective of young Hadara, Temple of Doubt follows the fifteen year old young woman as she wrestles with the faith of her people and the convictions of her heart. In her home of Port Sapphire, the god Nihil reigns over all, driving utter devotion (and fear) in hearts of his worshippers. He, and his Temple of Doubt, are the the beginning and the end of life for those on the fantastical planet of Kuldor; never far from anyone’s mind.
Even so, Hadara and her mother Lia, have forged their own independence from the long gaze of their mysterious god as herbal medicine women in the marshes of Port Sapphire. Gathering all types of indigenous flora to use in tinctures and teas to help ease the ailings of their people is a duty they hold sacred- all which flies directly in the face of Nihil’s doctrine.
Hadara struggles to keep her misgivings about Nihil and the Temple to herself for the sake of her family, but as an outspoken and stubborn individual she doesn’t always succeed. All she wants is to make it to her 16th birthday so she may leave school and head out to the field with the other women, but the crash of a falling star on Port Sapphire brings two high priests of the Temple to her shores with the ominous news that a demon is within said star and it must be destroyed at all costs.
Hadara soon finds herself drawing the attention and ire of the Temple Priests, yet is chosen to guide them through the unruly outer lands to find the fallen star and the demon they are so insistent it possesses. As she forges deeper into this mystery and her own instincts, forces are put into motion that are seemingly beyond even the Temple’s understanding. What Hadara uncovers could challenge everything she’s ever known, particularly the Temple of Doubt.
Levy’s debut novel builds a believable world and a heroine that young women will identify and want to go this journey with. At times, the the characterization can feel a bit trite, but what the author does so well within the story is create the mythos around the Temple of Doubt.
Throughout the novel she includes passages from the scriptures of Nihil and traditional proverbs of the people she’s created to shape her world. These pieces add depth to the story and history to its characters. Each passage alludes to a much larger backstory, creating questions that will pull readers in through this book and on to the subsequent titles in the series.