Kings of Colorado

( 29 )

Overview

At thirteen, William Sheppard was sent to the Swope Ranch Boys’ Reformatory for stabbing his abusive father in the chest with a pocketknife. Buried deep in the Colorado Mountains, Swope is shrouded in legend and defined by one prevailing rumor: the boys who go in never come out the same. Days from civilization with only one accessible road — any prisoner who attempts to escape will be shot down without hesitation. There is no forgiveness from the mountains or the guards.

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Kings of Colorado: A Novel

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Overview

At thirteen, William Sheppard was sent to the Swope Ranch Boys’ Reformatory for stabbing his abusive father in the chest with a pocketknife. Buried deep in the Colorado Mountains, Swope is shrouded in legend and defined by one prevailing rumor: the boys who go in never come out the same. Days from civilization with only one accessible road — any prisoner who attempts to escape will be shot down without hesitation. There is no forgiveness from the mountains or the guards.

At Swope, mustangs are trucked in to be broken by a select group of inmates. Once the horses are gentled, they are sold across the Southwest. Horses come and go, delinquent boys come and go. The boys break the horses, Swope breaks the boys. If the boys are to withstand the ranch, they must first overcome violence and tragedy — only to be haunted forever.

Praise for Kings of Colorado

“For years I have searched for an heir to Golding’s Lord of the Flies, and this is it." —Will Lavender, New York Times bestselling author of Obedience

A sort of Stand by Me behind bars.” —Publishers Weekly

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Hilton debuts with a stark novel of violence and fierce friendship in a 1960s Colorado juvenile penitentiary. After 13-year-old Will Sheppard stabs his abusive father while trying to protect his mother, he's sent to Swope Boys Reformatory, a work ranch where the only rule of law is that of a greedy warden, corrupt guards, and vicious fellow inmates, the worst of them a boy named Silas Green. Shepherd befriends a few boys--Coop the literary mind, Benny the kid with the big heart, and Mickey the ornery runt with an ironclad outer shell--and they must all survive the brutishness of head guard Frank Croft and the nihilism of Silas and his cronies while doing back-breaking labor in the horse stables and out in the fields. Hilton's portrayal of adolescent friendship is authentic and touching, and the story moves at a speedy pace as the boys' innocence is shattered in ever deeper and more profound ways. While the writing can flirt with melodrama, the characters are well drawn and their trials are harrowing, a sort of Stand by Me behind bars. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
“As heart-wrenching as The Outsiders and as compelling as This Boy’s Life, Kings of Colorado is a coming-of-age story that grabs you from the first sentence and takes you on an intense but rewarding journey. David E. Hilton’s powerful and riveting debut is a must-read.”
—Garth Stein, New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain

"Set in the magnificent Colorado mountains, this coming-of-age tale provides scenes of gripping action as well as a sympathetic yet unvarnished look into the lives of troubled teens. It should appeal to thoughtful young adults and to those who still remember being one."
Library Journal

“Heartbreaking portrayal of innocence lost in the most profound sense. A former middle school teacher, Hilton clearly understands the struggle of adolescence, and he interrogates that struggle with finesse and admirable curiosity by pushing his characters to their most extreme limits. Will and his compatriots are achingly sympathetic, and their bond with each other and communal will to survive is riveting and thought-provoking.”
Bookpage

“David E. Hilton’s Kings of Colorado, a book that [is] equal parts Annie Proulx and Larry McMurtry set in Colorado in the 1960s.”
Dallas Morning News

“Hard, sad, stirring, poignant, and utterly beautiful. Hilton has written a coming of age story that will be remembered for its characters as well as its harrowing plot.”
—Naseem Rakha, international bestselling author of The Crying Tree

"A heartfelt portrait of young men in a bygone age."
—Kirkus Reviews

"For years I have searched for an heir to Golding's Lord of the Flies, and this is it. But in Kings of Colorado, Hilton allows you to look into these characters and see that redemption is possible. The story of all things wild—wild horses, wild boys, and the wild landscape that looms above it all—this book is as heartbreaking and as hopeful as anything you will read this year. A fine novel."
—Will Lavender, New York Times bestselling author of Obedience

“Hilton’s writing is brutal and poetic, his images haunting. A raw and powerful debut.”
—Noah Charney, international bestselling author of The Art Thief and Stealing the Mystic Lamb

"Hilton's portrayal of adolescent friendship is authentic and touching, and the story moves at a speedy pace as the boys' innocence is shattered in ever deeper and more profound ways. . . .A sort of Stand by Me behind bars."
—Publishers Weekly

Library Journal
Hilton's first novel begins with old man Will Sheppard remembering traveling in 1963 to a reformatory ranch in remote Colorado after a final bloody encounter with his drunken and abusive father. As he settles in, 13-year-old Will makes friends and enemies and begins to appreciate the outdoors and caring for the ranch's wild horses. During his first year, Will learns a lot about himself. When he and his friends are fiercely tested on a search for some missing horses in an early winter storm, life at the ranch will never be the same for those who survive. VERDICT Set in the magnificent Colorado mountains, this coming-of-age tale provides scenes of gripping action as well as a sympathetic yet unvarnished look into the lives of troubled teens. It should appeal to thoughtful young adults and to those who still remember being one.—Dan Forrest, Western Kentucky Univ., Bowling Green
Kirkus Reviews

An abused boy finds comrades-in-arms among his fellow inmates when he's sent to a remote reform school high in the Rocky Mountains.

Texas-based debut novelist Hilton employs a clear-eyed adolescent voice in this story of a young man lost in the wilderness. The story is set in 1963 and stars the tough-as-nails William Sheppard, a 13-year-old from Chicago's South Side. After years of abuse at the hands of his alcoholic father, Will stabs him (though not fatally) with his Davy Crockett Explorers penknife. For his crimes, a judge sends the young man to the Swope Ranch Boys' Reformatory, a desolate and corrupt detention center on Colorado's rugged west slope. On his very first day, Will is attacked by Eddie Tokus, for the simple reason that it's the school's tradition to let the last boy in beat on the next inmate—with the reformatory's wardens and guards betting on the ferocious contest. He wins, earning the nickname "Nosebleed." "Maybe that's what the ranch is," he offers. "It's the same universal rule any kid faces: swim with the group or sink alone." To keep his hide among the den of thieves and hooligans, Will befriends three other boys: Coop Kingston, a regretful firebug who burned his adopted family's home to the ground; Micky Baines, whose rebellious nature is overwhelmed by frontier violence; and Benny Fritch, an innocent who was sent up because he took the rap for his little brother. The winding tale of their passage through this world is marked by inevitable violence, first from Frank Kroft, the chief guard who kills one of the boys. Later, their bond is shattered by the introduction of John Church, a prisoner who deserves his sentence because of his uncontrollable rage. No one is left unmarked, especially Will.

Not altogether unflawed, but a heartfelt portrait of young men in a bygone age.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781455813223
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Publication date: 1/3/2012
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 6.50 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

David E. Hilton is a former middle school teacher who helps university and state employees figure out why they can’t access Google, print non work-related documents, or listen to their desktop speakers stream the latest Top Twenty. He and his wife, Amy, live just outside Austin, with their two boys and a beagle. Kings of Colorado is his first novel.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 29 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(20)

4 Star

(7)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Wow! what an amazing journey, WOW! what a story.

    First things first¿I loved this book! I have worked in treatment centers of the mentally ill, the developmentally disabled and boys who are out of control. I have even spit on my meal to be sure that one of those boys in treatment didn¿t steal off my plate(necessary or your food disappears every time you take your eyes off the plate.) This book captured the pain and hurt you see in those kids eyes. Broken homes, drug and/or alcohol abuse, physical/emotional abuse, gang life, the list goes on and on and you can see the need for love and acceptance in each of their faces. This book broke my heart and yet it was life affirming at the same time. A bit of Stand By Me, a bit of Lord of the Flies, a bit of what every teenager goes through and a bit of life as we all know it. The story comes to life in your head so full of color that it is hard to believe that this is a debut novel for this author. It is beautifully written and so full of life. I can¿t wait to see what else David comes out with in the future. Since this is about teen boys in treatment for crimes, it has language and adult situations you would expect. I loved this book and would give it 5 stars, but that to me means that it is a must read for everyone and this one may not be for everyone. I personally loved this story and I hate to cry, I refuse to watch a movie if someone dies because I hate to cry that much. But I cried and cried, I laughed and my heart shattered during my journey through these pages. What an extraordinary book this one is. Relationships are what we have in this life that are truly ours, embrace those you care about today. This is a story that means more than just the words on the pages, it gives you things to think about. It makes you thankful for what you have in this life and it affirms what you hold most important. This is a book I will be keeping to read again and for my kids to read.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 27, 2011

    Super good read!

    This book cuts to the chase early and doesnt let up to the last page. very good ending also!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 19, 2011

    What a book

    A blast out of nowhere

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 22, 2014

    A page turner!

    Very well written, interesting characters and story. I had to find out what happened but I did not enjoy the book, the story is too dark and tragic for my taste.

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  • Posted April 26, 2013

    Wow Loved It

    This Novel was certainly a page turner! The story line and setting brought you into the scene. I love it when an author can bring you to a different place like you are watching a movie. Very well done David Hilton, so glad I chose your novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2013

    Astonishing. 

    Astonishing. 

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  • Posted February 24, 2012

    Fabulous, interesting

    Good, solid reading

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2012

    Couldn't put it down!

    This book draws you in from the very beginning. Very hard to put down once started. Some graphic violence, but very good reading. Held my attention the entire time. Very well written.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 26, 2011

    Emotional binding

    I've had few books that had me feeling such dramatic swings of emotion while reading. Couldn't put it down...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2011

    REALLY GOOD!

    It has been a while since I have read a book that I really enjoyed. It wasn't sappy to be sappy and the charachters emotions and behaviors seemed real. I figured there would be some disturbing parts and of course there were. There were a couple of laugh out loud moments and there was a part at the end that basically made me cry. I would definitely recommend and certainly would read anoher of Hilton's books.

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  • Posted March 12, 2011

    Awesome!

    Couldn't put it down! Very well done!

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    Posted February 5, 2011

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    Posted October 31, 2011

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    Posted May 14, 2011

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