of Colorado by David Hilton is set at the Swope Ranch Boy’s Reformatory
in Gunnison Colorado where in 1963 William Sheppard is sent for stabbing his
father. Sometimes lives are changed or
defined by the actions of a moment. For
13 year old William, the first of these moments is stabbing his alcoholic
father to prevent the man from beating William’s mother to death. The kid has never been west, spent his life
thus far in Chicago. Swope uses the
reformatory boys to gentle herds of mustangs, intended to be sold to farmers
and ranchers. Swope is an amalgam of
young kids who got dealt a bad hand in life like William, and some that are
truly rotten. William makes three good
friends, they call themselves the Kings of
The interaction between the boys and the horses make this novel special.
The setting is spectacular. It is a
story though that contains tragedy and darkness too.
A heartfelt portrait of young men in a bygone age" (Kirkus Reviews) about troubled boys, wild horses, and the high price of a childhood lost. Thirteen-year-old William Sheppard stabs his abusive father and is sent to the Swope Ranch Boys Reformatory, setting off a string of events that ultimately leads to a horrifying end in the Colorado mountains. Along the way, he befriends three boys who become his surrogate family. Their work together taming horses brings peace, as the boys struggle to survive a world of hurt and shocking cruelty wherein the only thing they can rely on is each other as the laws of normal society are stripped away. With a backbone of heart-wrenching suspense, Kings of Colorado is a beautiful portrayal of brotherhood set against the nobility, danger, and wildness of youth and horses. The bonds between man and beast, along with other themes of community, friendship, and atonement are boldly explored on every page. Kings of Colorado illustrates just how easily innocence can be stripped away, robbing us of something most precious: childhood.