Heroes of the Water Monster

Kirkus Reviews Best Books

American Indian Youth Literature Award Honor Book

An unmissable companion to Healer of the Water Monster, which won the American Indian Library Association Youth Literature Award, this novel by Navajo author Brian Young tells the story of two contemporary young Navajo heroes—and one water monster—who must learn to work together to save their present world from the lasting hurts of their people’s past.

Edward feels ready to move in with his dad’s girlfriend and her son, Nathan. He might miss having his dad all to himself, but even if things in their new home are a little awkward, living with Nathan isn’t so bad. And Nathan is glad to have found a new guardian for Dew, the young water monster who has been Nathan’s responsibility for two years. Now that Nathan is starting to lose his childhood connection to the Holy Beings, Edward will be the one to take over as Dew’s next guardian.

But Edward has a lot to learn about taking care of a water monster. And fast. Because Dew’s big sister, the powerful Yitoo Bii’aanii, is coming up to Fourth World to instruct Dew after recovering in the Third World for 160 years. She suspects a monstrous and enormous Enemy from the Hero Twins stories has returned and is stealing water from all of the Navajo Nation.

In their search for the Modern Enemy, Nathan, Edward, Dew, and Yitoo must confront their past and their inner selves if they are to save the Fourth World from a devastating disaster.

A riveting, emotionally affecting adventure—and an American Indian Library Association Youth Literature Award Honor Book!

‘Thought-provoking and full of heart; a genuinely pleasurable read.’

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

‘Navajo author Young interweaves the atrocities of the Long Walk, Navajo traditional beliefs, and modern issues of climate change and water consumption in an action-filled adventure featuring two appealing Indigenous protagonists. Young readers are faced with big questions about identity, justice, and inherited trauma.’

Horn Book Magazine

‘This is one of those books that sets up camp in your heart. The depth of the plot and character development, the setting, the themes, the balance of identity with history and modern life– none of these are small accomplishments on their own, and seeing them flawlessly woven together here makes for one unputdownable book.’

Paw Prints in the Sink

‘Young deftly touches on a number of tough topics like climate change, generational trauma, and divorce in a manner that is insightful and age appropriate. The evolving relationship between Edward and Nathan is realistic and heartwarming and highlights the dynamics of blending families. Yitoo, while being downright mean at times, is still easy to empathize with. VERDICT An immersive and heartfelt story that tackles tough topics with grace.’

SLJ Express