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Kings of Colorado

4.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  696 Ratings  ·  196 Reviews
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 es ...more
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Published January 3rd 2012 by Brilliance Audio (first published January 1st 2011)
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Edwin Arnaudin
May 05, 2011 Edwin Arnaudin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kings of Colorado came highly recommended from Mrs. Thomas, my 11th grade English teacher and mother of a long-time friend. She said it was an interesting first novel (light bulb!) and that the writing was noteworthy (light bulb!). She laid out the gist of the story (light bulb!) and said that the only drawbacks she had were a handful of brutal scenes at the boys' correctional ranch, but accepted them in the name of authenticity. Sold!

Since I'm attempting a work of my own in pared-down third-per
Paul Pessolano
Jan 26, 2011 Paul Pessolano rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Put the book down that you are now reading and grab this one!!!!!!

This is the story of 13 year old William Sheppard. He is living in Chicago with his mother and abusive father. One day his father is beating his mother and he grabs a pen knife and stabs his father several times. His father lives but William is sent to a Boy's Reformatory outside Gunnison, Colorado. He is sentenced to two years on a ranch that breaks mustangs. Remember this young man is from Chicago.

William is faced with cold weat
Book Him Danno
Nov 09, 2011 Book Him Danno rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads, 2011
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 ...more
May 16, 2011 Jake rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a detour from what I normally read, and it turned out to be a good adventure. It is a brutal story about coming-of-age, friendship, and learning to accept the past. Really, it wasn't what I expected, and there were some nice parallels drawn seamlessly together.

The main character, Will, is complex and likeable. However, I don't know if I felt like he really evolved as a person. He attacks his abusive father and ends up in a juvenile ranch in Colorado where it's every man for himself. The
Sep 30, 2011 Terry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I absolutely loved the protagonist Will Sheppard. Sadly, he was a 'real' character, one you may have passed on the street and not given a second glance. My heart broke for him. I cheered for him. Cried for him. Pulled for him. A strong kid, and a strong man. He's definitely earned a place on my list of all-time unforgettable characters.

This novel was beautifully written. I was drawn into Will's world and felt as if I was experiencing his life right by his side. Painful, wrought with emotion, dis
David Donaghe
Jan 20, 2012 David Donaghe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the Kings of Colorado, a fifty year old man looks back to when he was a boy and they sent him to a boys ranch in Colorado for stabbing his abusive father. It is a coming of age tale that keeps you turning the page. I highly recommend it.
Oct 10, 2015 Diana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. David Hilton managed to tell a heart-rending tale in such a way that it was bearable, strangely uplifting--and haunting. I'm spoiled what might be termed "high literature," which made me wonder at times, in the beginning, why I was reading this book, but the story itself sucked me in and after a while, I felt that the way it is written is perfect for the tale. It isn't flowery in any way, and it shouldn't be. It's the story of a boy--several boys- ...more
Steffi ♥ Lesenslust
~*Die Story*~

Es ist der Sommer 1963. Ein Sommer, der alles verändert.

William Sheppard, auch Will genannt, ist 13 Jahre alt und eigentlich noch ein Kind. Sein Alltag zuhause ist geprägt von den gewaltsamen Schlägen und Demüdigungen seines Vaters. Als der sich wiederholt gegen seine Mutter richtet, entscheidet sich Will unbeholfen zu einer verzweifelten Tat: Er sticht zu. Für seine Mutter, für ihn – für das Ende eines Alptraums!

Doch sein Vater überlebt!

Will wird zu 2 Jahren Strafe auf einer Erzi
Shaeley Santiago
I selected this book because it is about juvenile delinquent boys at a camp in Colorado. Having traveled quite a bit in Colorado, I enjoyed the descriptions of the scenery and found the sections about breaking wild mustangs interesting. Since the audience of the books is adults, the story goes beyond young adult books like Holes with descriptions of violent crimes. The darkness of the story was too much for me. I was overwhelmed by the injustices experienced by boys within the criminal justice s ...more
Nov 09, 2011 Kathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Zum Inhalt: Es ist das Jahr 1963, Will ist gerade einmal dreizehn Jahre alt. Bereits seit Jahren wird er immer wieder Zeuge wie sein Vater seine Mutter verprügelt und vergewaltigt. Und immer öfter ist auch er selbst Opfer der Gewalt. Bis er es nicht mehr aushält und seinem Vater ein Taschenmesser in die Brust sticht. Daraufhin wird er zu zwei Jahren Haft verurteilt, welche er jedoch nicht in irgendeinem Jugendknast verbringt, sondern auf einer Ranch in Colorado. Dort warten nicht nur harte Arbei ...more
I decided this book was one of my favorites after the first chapter. You instantly get sucked into the story line. This book was one of the sadest, goriest, beautifulest book I've ever read. It horrifies you and touches your heart. I couldn't believe all the things the boys in the book were exposed to. What happened in the main characters life is unimaginable. I feel like this book is something everyone should read. It shows you the beauty in life and the horrers in life. The book was beautifull ...more
Jul 14, 2011 ms.petra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing book! 4.5!!!
This is the story of Will Shepard and the time he spent at a juvenile correction/reform camp high in the mountains of Colorado in the mid 60's. It is a coming of age story, but not in the ordinary sense. These boys have already been broken by the circumstances that have landed them here in the first place. The job of the ranch is to break horses and the boys sent there. There is a brutality in the lives of these boys that will be unfamiliar to those of you who hav
Nov 14, 2012 Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With Kings of Colorado, David E. Hilton has managed to recreate Lord of the Flies for a whole new Generation. This novel, is the story of stark circumstances and terrible violence all residing in world of hidden beauty. We follow the protagonist William Shepherd after he plunges his Davy Crocket hunting knife into his abusive father's chest, an act that gets him shipped off to SWOOP reformatory in Colorado. This reformatory is nothing like David has ever seen holding both evil and good character ...more
Mar 13, 2013 Courtney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Original Comments: I wasn't expecting a lot out of this book as I just randomly happened across it in a B&N one day. But, I am SO glad that I did buy it! This book was moving in so many ways and nearly had me in tears many times. Read it, trust me. If I start talking about it more here, it'll ruin it for you!


A while ago I filled out an End of 2012 Book Survey. It was a great way to revisit books that I hadn't thought much about since turning the final page. It made me think back on bo
May 23, 2011 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When 13 year old William Shepard stabs his stepfather in the side with an ivory handled pocket knife after trying to protect his mother from his brutal abuse, he is quickly sent off to Swope Ranch Boys’ Reformatory in the remote hills of Colorado for a stint of two years. Even though Will’s stepfather ends up surviving, the punishment for the boy is swift and severe. Though the facility is ostensibly a place for juvenile delinquents to do correctional time, the boys who live at the ranch are als ...more
Feb 22, 2015 Joyce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The novel Kings of Colorado by David E. Hilton was one of the most compelling and emotionally draining books I've read. It tells the story of Will Sheppards's experiences during 2 years at a boy's reformatory ranch in Colorado. Woven throughout the novel are the stories of several other boys living at the ranch and their impact on Will's life. Will is sent to the reformatory ranch in Colorado after stabbing his father with a knife when he is once again beating up on Will's mother. After going to ...more
Tracy Walters
Mar 16, 2012 Tracy Walters rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book back in July from a First-Reads Giveaway and I finally found time to read it....from the first page.....I was sucked right in and I really struggled to put it down so I could do real life things.....I give the book 4 stars instead of 5 because of the language and violence.....but still a wonderful book.

This book broke my heart.....there were several times that I caught myself crying for the dear boys in each of their tragic situations. This is a very violent book....the phys
Jan 25, 2012 Leish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love the blog-o-sphere and I really appreciate the opportunities I am given. Had I not been contacted by the publisher, I would probably not have even known this book existed. Even if I saw it in the bookstore, I probably wouldn't have picked it up. This book far exceeded any expectations I had, and I feel that the story will stick with me for a long time.

When I finished reading this book, I was emotionally drained. David E. Hilton's debut novel surely packs an emotional punch and many times I
Alex Grubka
Nov 01, 2013 Alex Grubka rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The passage(s) that I decided has shaped the book so far...

"Mickey ran up, out of breath, and just stared openmouthed. When I whispered Benny’s name, Mickey held his head and squatted, as though feeling every ounce of the pain himself.
It was my fault, I wanted to say. I may have even mouthed it, but Mickey didn’t see. Guilt flooded my heart as the scene replayed itself in my head. It had been my fault. I turned to vomit, and when nothing came, I fell to my knees and cried.”

This passage is imme
Mar 04, 2011 Drew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kings of Colorado is a coming of age story, told through the eyes of the principal character William Sheppard, who as the book opens is on the late side of life and is recounting the story from his early teen years. Sent to a boys "reformatory" in the Rocky Mountains for stabbing his father in the chest, William quickly learns that life isn't fair, is full of both friends and enemies and those who should be protecting you are often the perpetrators of the worst sort.
The story is devastatingly ho
Luke Baldwin
Jun 06, 2014 Luke Baldwin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book is about a 13 year old boy named William Shepard who stabbed his father in the chest with a Davy Crockett explorers pocketknife. he had to spend two dreadful years at the Swope Ranch Boys' reformatory high in the mountains in Colorado. Will was not a bad kid at all, he stabbed his abusive and alcoholic father because he was preventing him from beating his mother to death. him and three of his friends call themselves the Kings of Colorado because of the card game that they play. Will wa ...more
Dec 14, 2010 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about the relationships of several teenage boys with troubled pasts who were sent to a boys reformatory camp in Colorado in the 60's. It is definitely violent and disturbing in many places, yet still somehow hopeful. The book was fast-paced and the action was not stop, which made it a good read that stays with you well after you finish. Very powerful.

I read an advanced copy of this book.
MrsGeary Geary
I'm stuck between 3 and 4 stars.

I really loved this book at the start; I was instantly captivated. And while there are definitely things here that I thoroughly enjoyed and that I think the writer did well, I can't get past its relentless stream of misery. I also thought the end got a bit clunky and believe Hilton could have treated it differently. Not so sure it demanded the whole "writing in my journal" framework, as it made the end awkward to accomplish.

I was deeply moved by this story of you
Ken Bickley
Oct 25, 2014 Ken Bickley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll start with a disclaimer. This book is brutally violent, profane and disturbing. If 4-letter words turn you off, you'll be bothered, to say the least. That said, I'll add that it is so well written, and the story so well told, if you start it you can't stop until you finish it. And if you do, the ending may give you enough uplift to cancel out the really bad feelings you got from all that went before. Thirteen-year-old Will Sheppard of Chicago stabs his father with his Davy Crockett knife in ...more
Apr 12, 2011 Rhonda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: male-fiction
I picked this book becasue it is compared to Lord of the Flies--a great read in my estimation. So far the plot is quick. I really like this book. It was a quick read and Hilton creates believable characters and writes a believable story about boys placed on a mountainous Colorado ranch to serve 2-year juevenille prison terms. It is a great read for adolescent boys.
Mar 28, 2011 Kerry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
An old man tells the story of 2 years in his youth that has left him haunted and broken. When WIll Sheppard was 13 he stabbed his abusive father and was sent to a juvenile detention "ranch" in the Colo mountains-which is when the real horror begins. A very moving and powerful book. I couldn't put it down and when I did it was to cry.

Lisa Houlihan
This is mostly good but has raw spots ... which, considering the subject matter, maybe makes sense. A plastic bench in a rustic, bare-bones ranch in Colorado in 1963? The spade, rather than the blade, of a shovel? “I wished I would have tried harder to go with him." “...[W]hile I was baling blocks of hay with a couple other guys”: I don't know much about it, but if hay is in blocks, it's already baled, surely? I do know you feed horses hay, not bed them in it, as this author does.

It does resort
Cara Achterberg
Oct 13, 2014 Cara Achterberg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in only four days. I was surprised when I realized this. It moves very fast and the images are sometimes painful and mainy times disturbing. Because I was reading before bed, I would think, "I should go to sleep but I can't end on that scene, it'll give me nightmares." Anyone who knows me, knows I don't go in for horror and that's not what this is - it's suspense, coming-of-age, maybe even a little bit thriller at the end, but mostly it's just a well-written story with character ...more
Apr 11, 2011 Naseem rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book before it was published, and found myself in tears at some of the scenes. It is a very harrowing tale, more violent then I typically read, but the pages kept themselves turning. The characters all felt real and their stories utterly heart wrenching. Very good read.
LaRiena Ralph
Feb 24, 2012 LaRiena Ralph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Devastating. Couldn't put it down but it left me with several haunting images I still can't bring myself to think about. So although I enjoyed reading it, I'm not sure I can recommend it unless you want to dive into something dark and relentless.
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Q&A with David E....: Kings of Colorado Questions 7 25 Nov 10, 2011 06:39AM  
Q&A with David E....: Welcome 2 11 Oct 24, 2011 10:43AM  
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Born in 1974, David E. Hilton’s family moved to West Texas in an attempt to rid his chronic asthma. He considers growing up in that region to be a constant inspiration for many of his stories. In Alpine, he was a boy scout, backpacked throughout Big Bend National Park, and has even seen a Marfa Ghost Light at close range.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from Howard Payne University in 1998, and began
More about David E. Hilton...

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“Some stories are rooted in adventure, some in strife. Others are born of the heart, and the horrors and the joys locked therein are often immeasurable, and make us truly wonder what became of those children we once were.” 16 likes
“Its odd how you cant bury the past deep enough that it wont claw its way back up” 5 likes
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