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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
A Reduction of Men by Jason C. Dykehouse is a speculative fantasy set in an alternate historical world and revolving around one Mister Oshka Hyggens, who unwittingly makes a name for himself at perhaps the most inopportune moment possible. The cartography provided appears pretty straightforward until Dykehouse begins to slowly peel back the layers. Territories are partitioned with intimations regarding parallels to war, conquest, and colonialism. Hyggens lands somewhere in the center. He is like the terrifyingly calm eye of a tornado, his reticence having been shaped by grievous losses in his youth that juxtapose his service to the 'civilized' League States. This is a true journey into the unknown with one menacing twist...it is not entirely unknown to Hyggens.
Jason C. Dykehouse's writing finesse and style are evident on every page of A Reduction of Men. We know as the story starts that Hyggens has some baggage. The guy is a toe-scrunching mess and while he does his best to wallflower himself away, that's never going to happen when you are front-page news. He swiftly becomes “...that’s that Hyggens—that man from the Rim...” I cannot compliment Dykehouse enough on every aspect of this story. The dialogue is witty and authentic, the narrative is intelligent, and the world-building with nautical and urban life, carriages and expedition crews, the dangerous Rim, and a sea that swallows unwelcome intruders is incredible. The bonus though is the humanity of Hyggens himself, if we can call it that. The mystery of what happens only works because Hyggens is an enigma himself. And Hyggens is exactly as Dykehouse has made him, making A Reduction of Men worthy of an expansion.