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Control the brain and you control the world. In a fractured nation, two women are left with a choice – risk all to bring humanity together or let it fall apart.

'This hypnotic debut novel brilliantly captures the unease of our times.' Jane Caro
'Wildly entertaining and frighteningly plausible.' James Bradley
'A whip smart thriller with big ideas and big heart.' Steven Amsterdam

A pandemic is racing through our world, changing people subtly but irrevocably. The first sign for some is losing their faith. For others it comes as violent outpourings of creativity, reckless driving and seeing visions.

Scientist Charlotte Zinn is close to a cure when her partner becomes infected. Overnight her understanding of the disease is turned upside down. Should she change the path of evolution?

As Australia is torn apart, reporter Brigid Bayliss is determined to uncover the dark truth behind the religious response to the outbreak.

Brigid and Charlotte find themselves on the frontline of a world splintering into far left and far right, with unexpected power to change the course of history. But at what cost?

Dark, thrilling and compulsively readable, The Second Cure is a provocative debut about control, courage and belief.


Margaret Morgan’s well-­researched, intelligent and engaging thriller. Like most good sci-fi, The Second Cure uses present dilemmas to pose fundamental question­s about what it means to be human. The Second Cure is an absorbing, enjoyable and thought-provoking book.

Claire Corbett, The Australian

Margaret Morgan's first novel is a captivating dystopian fiction - brilliantly imagined, smart, dark and thought-provoking, as well as frequently funny.

Katharine England, Adelaide Advertiser

The Second Cure is the provactive and thrilling debut novel from Sydney author and screenwriter Margaret Morgan. Great fiction allows us to make sense of the world we live in. Morgan has provided readers with two strong and remarkable central female characters to help us navigate this increasingly turbulent world, the scientist Charlotte Zinn, and reporter Brigid Bayliss. A striking, little bit frightening, and strong debut, The Second Cure is definitely to get your hands on!

Simon Clark, The AU Review

The world’s cats are all dying and people are starting to exhibit strange symptoms…this hypnotic debut novel brilliantly captures the unease of our times.

Jane Caro

This is a whip smart thriller, spanning decades and alive with ideas, featuring a cast that never stops moving, a crash course in parasitology, governments that rise and fall, ethical meditations on who we actually are, and — the most divine motor of all - the human heart.

Steven Amsterdam

Wildly entertaining. A razor sharp satire of the hypocrisy of the religious right and politicians of all stripes that feels not just possible but frighteningly plausible.

James Bradley

A highly intelligent and plausible novel. I love a good twist at the end of a novel and this book has two beauties. But, a moral dilemma is also presented. Would you alter the natural course of history to rid the world of your perception of evil if you had the scientific know-how? What would be the consequences?


A taut and thrilling examination of the near future and the potential Pandora's Box of genetic variants and mutated plagues. [Morgan] explores what may happen when we get beyond the realms of what our current level of science can cope with, providing a clear warning about how susceptible humans are to the smallest of parasitic threats as well as the greatest of human ones — the zealots and fundamentalists on all sides.

David Johnson, Good Reading magazine

The Second Cure is a novel well calibrated for our cultural and societal moment. It is a vision of where our country could be headed without vigilance, a nation where ‘the self-centred … impose their pathology on the rest of the community’.

Jack Rowland, Australian Book Review

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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    July 30, 2018

    Vintage Australia

    384 pages

    RRP $32.99

    Online retailers

    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
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    • Dymocks
    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
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    • QBD
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    • Robinsons Bookshop
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    July 30, 2018

    Random House Australia

    384 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle AU
    • iBooks
    • Google Play EBook AU
    • Kobo Ebook
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks



Tiptoe . . .

The space between was the worst. Worse than the repetition. Worse than the volume – so loud that she felt it everywhere: in her eyeballs, in her gut, juddering deep in the base of her spine. Worse, even, than the light strobing and blazing and bouncing from the white walls and around her brain, day and night.

Not that day and night meant anything any more. That was the point.

Through the window . . .

For a while she timed the silences. From the final, fading ukulele chord to the opening notes. Eight seconds. Half a second. Twenty-two seconds. No pattern . . . which was also the point.

By the window, that’s where I’ll be . . .

One of the guards had been in earlier. As he opened the cell door, the music stopped.

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Book Clubs
The Second Cure Book Club Notes

Books clubs will love this provocative debut novel about control, courage and belief.

Awards and Recognition

  • Aurealis Awards
    Best Science Fiction Novel

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