book club guide – The Breach by Nick Cutter

Audiobook cover for The Breach, a Novel by Nick Cutter

You’ve found it! Here is the only guide your dark book club pals need to have a twisted conversation about The Breach by Nick Cutter. The only way to get this one is on Audible, so you can buy it there if you are so inclined. The discussion guide is divided into four sections, so you can stretch it out over several weeks if that’s how your club likes to roll.

Title: The Breach

Author: Nick Cutter

Date first published: 22 October 2020

ISBN10 & ASIN injured in the making of this Book Club offering:  1713629534 & B08L5JH1MQ  (Audible Originals, narrated by Marc Vietor) (it doesn’t matter if you use a different version, this just makes it clearer if/when pages/sections don’t perfectly align from whatever version you may be using!)

Book blurb:

WHO are the main characters? Two main protagonists, John Hawkins and Meg Gilday

WHAT happens (no spoilers)? Some crazy mofo has gone into the remote Arctic to run his experiments, and the results are a gruesome disaster. Something about recreating and improving upon the technology from the Philadelphia Experiment, and accessing another plane of existence where things are creeping around that basically want to wear you like a Shania Twain leopard-print jumpsuit.

WHEN does the story take place? The story happens in present day (based on the technology like cell and sat phones), and frequently refers back to the investigations around the horrific results of the (fictional) Philadelphia Experiment on the USS Eldridge in 1943.

WHERE is the story set? The present-day parts of the story take place in and around a fictional town called Lone Crow, in remote Yukon Territory. Possibly based on the real town of Old Crow, YT, near the Alaska border.

WHY SHOULD YOU READ THIS BOOK? Clocking in at 6 hours 45 minutes, this is not a long read (listen?) relative to some of the godzilla-sized audiobooks you might find in the wild. It has some truly creepy visuals, and scenes that make the listener’s skin crawl. I give it a creep factor of 8.5 out of 10. Check out my overview in the noises above blog.

FOOD AND WINE PAIRINGS for this book club selection:

  • A lovely wheel of double- or triple-cream brie, baked to the melting point and sprinkled in brown sugar, served with sweet potato wheat thin crackers
  • Any Wolf Blass Yellow Label chardonnay or riesling


  • King crab legs
  • Any juice cleanse

🛑 Tread lightly now for the noises above book club guide to The Breach (probably spoilers)…

  • The Prologue consists of a clip from a conspiracy theory podcast about the Philadelphia Experiment. Considering the state of the world at the time this story was published (in 2020), what do you think about conspiracy talk shows and what could this kickoff imply for The Breach?
  • Copper wire and superconductors sound like a middle school shops project, don’t they? How could something so basic go so very wrong? Do you think maybe they should have tested that shit on something without actual humans on board before they hit the switch for the big show?
  • Do you think it’s fair that Corporal Hawkins thinks of Ed Loudermilk as a “lowlife” because of his method for harvesting fish? Would it make a difference if Mr. Loudermilk was an Indigenous person?
  • Lone Crow is a fictional small hamlet in the Canadian Arctic. Have you ever travelled, lived, or wanted to visit the far North? Why do you suppose Hawkins may have requested a transfer to a different unit in the RCMP?
  • Does Dr. Graham Raffelson fit the description of a typical city slicker heading out with misguided expectations of having an adventure in the remote wilderness? His backpack makes it seem like he may have been under-prepared, but he’s a smart guy so what do you think his deal was?
  • The dead body that Hawkins and the coroner, Jacob Littlecorn, go out to examine is pretty gross. What kind of stick would you use to poke at it?
  • Meg Gilday uses a line that might sound awfully familiar to some people: “I’ll track this shark for ya, but it ain’t gonna be easy”… do you remember what movie that line is from? And if you do, who was the character that said it?
  • When Jacob asks Meg to take his [dead body’s] picture for his wife and bury him deep where the wolves won’t get at his nethers, is that also a quote from somewhere else?
  • When the search party of John Hawkins and Jacob Littlecorn, arrive at Lynx Creek with their guide, Meg, they see maple trees, weeping elms, and ash trees. Do those trees seem like they belong in the Arctic Circle? I don’t know about you, but finding trees in unexpected locations is a level of creepy I didn’t know existed until now.
  • The references to elm, maple, and ash trees, and the snakehead fish being an invasive species might be a subtle way of getting us ready to really be invaded. Are people also an invasive species?
  • Structures – usually houses – changing size or shape have been the subject of many horror stories. A particularly noteworthy book that explores this idea is House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. Have you read House of Leaves? Can you recall any other stories where these types of physical changes occur with spooky effect? Why are houses (and now ships) that change size without explanation so darn unsettling?
  • The search party finds a trap door to the attic, which they open with a pole and cause a ladder to unfold. Do these types of attics exist in real life, or only in horror movies? Because I am thoroughly conditioned to fear them, that is a fact.
  • What is it about pus, sticky strands of goo, grubs, fungal infections, and segmented insect bodies that are so quick to trigger our ick instincts? 
  • Why is Linda keeping secrets from the search party? I mean, technically Hawkins and Jacob Littlecorn are the “authorities”, right? Why wouldn’t she want their help with full disclosure of what she knows?
  • Some nasty caterpillar did Meg dirty and she has an oozing lump on her wrist, with blood running down her palm’s “heart” line. Is this foreshadowing something?
  • By the end of Chapter 14, Jacob Littlecorn is clearly in deep, deep shit, and headed somewhere from which he will never likely return. His lucidity in between bouts of… bugging out?… seem like an opportunity to cry for help. What would you do if you suddenly realized you were turning into something unnatural and let’s be real here – totally awful and gross? Just go with the flow like lovely old Jacob?
  • Linda’s recollections about her and Graham’s courtship seems pretty stale and more than a little bit awkward. Is it any surprise that they had a kid who was also maybe a bit unusual? Linda had a close call with what may have been a vagrant when she was a young girl. What was the sketchiest thing you did as a kid that still comes back to haunt you?
  • There is a known phenomenon called the “uncanny valley”, where a person feels repulsed by artificial creations that are almost human, but not quite human enough to be convincing. Like, if someone is wearing reptile contact lenses and you suddenly make eye contact, or when a computer-generated character is really lifelike but juuuust a little bit too mechanical to be real. Brrrr… it really is a horrible feeling. Does Graham seem like he should be setting off uncanny valley alarm bells for Linda? Because she seems pretty ok with his smooth creepy self showing up out of nowhere, acting all smug and smarmy.
  • I was trying to eat a bologna sandwich while reviewing my notes on Chapter 20, and while you may think bologna is bad enough on its own, the imagery of Jacob’s final moments – stuck in a tree, peering out while his face basically converted to an exit wound – well let me just say that I had to set that sandwich aside. I also can’t eat when I’m looking at living fish doing fish things. What sort of horror puts you right off food? Send me your suggestions, maybe it could become a horror-based fad diet we all get rich off!
  • If the Tesla experiment on the USS Eldridge consisted of equipment made of copper wire and superconductors, then what the hell is going on here with the glass ball heads, the gramophone, and the good old See and Say? Was Graham Raffelson just a nutbar, or was he on to something?
  • Unfortunately a crab-walking dude emerged from a ruined shanty in front of Meg and Hawkins, and I don’t have a discussion question for this occurrence… I just wanted to note that I found this whole part of the story super scary. Ok, here’s a question after all: do you find this story to be scary? Disturbing? Unsettling? Funny? Is this horror??
  • Have you ever listened to Coast to Coast AM? Try listening to this episode together with your book club chums. It’s about 14 minutes long and I apologize for any ads you might encounter. But… Is this shit for real? Are these shows scripted and performed by actors? What do you think? 
  • Why do you suppose Meg is better able than Hawkins to accept that something supernatural is taking place? Would her Indigenous background and her understanding of mythology have something to do with that? Both Indigenous and European cultures have folk stories, mythologies, and religions, so what other ways are Indigenous ways of understanding the world perhaps different compared to colonial or European concepts?
  • When shit got real, Hawkins moved pretty quickly from genuinely believing he was still investigating something that could be explained, to accepting that he was about to perish due to unexplainable circumstances. The internal conflict is strong in this one. Can you think of any situations that could take you from living your best life to accepting your imminent demise in a matter of minutes?
  • The autopsy subject in the Project Rainbow intelligence file (Chapter 26) was said to have had a bullet hole in the throat, was completely dismembered, yet was still displaying signs of life. Meg shot the backwoods crab-walking big mouthed camp guy that was creeping after her and Hawkins right in the melon, and yet he still managed to keep on trucking. Why do these tunnel-dwelling a-holes appear to kill the hosts they are attempting to emulate, but they themselves just won’t die properly?
  • The descriptions of events, survivors and bodies from the Philadelphia Experiment in this story, and the various messed up replicas of our friends at the Lynx Creek house tell us that somehow the same sort of phenomenon was responsible for both events. With that in mind:
    • What is the “breach” this story is named for?
    • What do you think came through the breach? Was it the same in 1943 on the USS Eldridge as it is at the house?
    • The conspiracy podcast at the start of the story mentioned memory-eater fungus from some hotdogs. What does that have to do with the events at Lynx Creek?
    • What is the deal with the insistence that the victims being preyed upon must “cleanse”? Is the antagonist an individual entity, several entities, an infection, a hive mind, an alien or aliens? Or something else?
  • Is Meg okay when Conrad Parks finds her strapped to the steering wheel of her stranded boat at Goat Island? What leads you to think she is or isn’t herself at this moment?
  • Considering what we heard earlier about how hard it is to kill these body-snatching assholes, why do you suppose a highly qualified search party came up empty-handed when they arrived to look for the missing parties? What does it mean that Connie spots a group of elm trees that somehow didn’t get caught in the fire?
  • Maggie the dog is deeply protective of baby John and aggressive toward the weird-ass wasps hanging around the window. How do you think that is going to turn out in the long run?
  • Meg was clearly deeply fucked up when she escaped down the river, what with the voices she heard and the need to fight a compulsion to return to Lynx Creek. Somewhere along the way, she seems to have recovered control of herself, and whatever infection she had developed from the caterpillar and wasp bites had retreated. How do you think she got better?
  • And to wrap it all up: How soon do you plan to head out to beautiful remote Yukon Territory to find yourself/selves, and to live face-first in a nice tight tunnel under the ground?

I’d love to hear what you think about the noises above book club guide to The Breach by Nick Cutter. If you have a request for a guide that your book club can use for a horror book not found here, send a request via the contact page. Cheers, weirdos!

go ahead, whistle past the graveyard

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