As If Death Summoned by Alan E. Rose


The historical event known as the Mt. Bogong Tragedy is the seed for this fictional story about the power of grief to erode a life, and—for those who can find a way through—the power to rebuild and renew it.


As If Death Summoned explores the early days of the AIDS epidemic.

In 1936, a man was caught in a blizzard on the Bogong High Plains of Australia. Found unconscious by a search party, he was taken to the nearest township where an old aborigine woman made the cryptic comment, “They brought back only his body.” He died soon after. In the decades since, there have been reports of a lone figure seen wandering over the heathlands. When approached, the man vanishes and no trace of him can be found. Almost sixty years later, a young American returns from Australia, haunted by dreams of the Bogong High Plains. After ten years of being on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic there, he, too, is lost in a kind of blizzard that has already claimed thirty-one friends—the thirty-first being his lover. Now burnt out and exhausted, he’s often mistaken for one of the infected but no longer bothers correcting people. Let them think what they will, he tells himself. I’m not dying. I’m already dead. Struggling to recall a time when life was about more than death, he nonetheless plunges back into the heart of the epidemic, working with an AIDS organization in Portland, Oregon, where he will eventually come to understand his mystic connection to the Bogong High Plains and the significance of the old woman’s words: When he returned to the States, he brought back only his body.

“As heartwarming and hope-giving as it is heartbreaking, As If Death Summoned showcases the best and worst aspects of the fight against HIV.” —Aimee Jodoin, Foreword Reviews

“As If Death Summoned is not so much a story of AIDS as it is a story of acceptance – of life and death, inequalities, choices, timing, change, celebration, and friendship.” —Liesl Messerschmidt, MPH, HIV program advisor, researcher, writer, and founding director of Health and Development Consulting International

“Heart-wrenching and at the same time, heart-lifting Rose ingeniously draws the reader in with his exquisite prose, raw emotion, and dark humor. To be able to laugh and cry at the same time is a nod to Rose’s astute insight into the human condition where even when surrounded by darkness there can still be light.” —Hannah Dennison, author of the Island Sisters Mysteries, Honeychurch Hall Mysteries & the Vicky Hill Mysteries

“This novel captures the heart, passion, and humour of those on the frontlines of HIV/AIDS work. The devastation, the loss, the trying-to-keep-going. It’s all here…a beautiful, intriguing, and authentic novel about living [and] dying . . .” —Charlotte Kinzie, Kinzie Things

“Set in the early years of the AIDS pandemic, Rose reminds us just how awful—and—heroic those years were; memories that now are in danger of being forgotten. Not another AIDS novel, Rose has written a powerful story about dying, and by extension, living.” —Keith John Glaeske, Out in Print

”It’s been said that timing is everything and the publication of As If Death Summoned: A Novel of the AIDS Epidemic by Alan E. Rose, coming out as it does in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, gives the already powerful story that much more weight.” Gregg Shapiro, Baltimore Out Loud

“A sensitive comparison of epidemics for our time—a luminous novel!” —Grady Harp, Amazon Hall of Fame and Top 50 Reviewer

ALAN ROSE the author of three published works, The Legacy of Emily Hargraves (2007,) a paranormal mystery, Tales of Tokyo (2010,) a quest novel set in modern Japan, and The Unforgiven (2012,) a dark psychological mystery exploring the intersection of memory and guilt. Alan is the book reviewer for The Columbia River Reader, host of KLTV’s “Book Chat” program, and coordinator for WordFest, a monthly regional gathering of writers and readers. He lives on a hillside overlooking the Lewis River Valley in rural southwest Washington State.

To learn more about Alan, please visit his website.


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