Review: The Gold-Bug and Other Tales by Edgar Allan Poe

The Gold-Bug and Other Tales by Edgar Allan Poe. Dover Thrift edition, 1991. 121 pages.

The year is almost over. That means I am almost out of time on my 2018 Popsugar Reading Challenge. 40 different reading prompts to cross off the list. It’s basically a fun scavenger hunt but with books. Well, one of the last challenges I had left to do this year was number 31.) A book mentioned in another book. I had been dragging my feet on it all year because I didn’t really read any books that mentioned other books in it. Now, because it is the end of the year, I was desperate, and went with a book choice that was mentioned allllll the way back in February, when I read The Terror. The reason I did not just pick this choice from the start, is because the story that is mentioned is Edgar Allan Poe’s Masque of the Red Death, which is not the title of a book, but the title of a short story. I would have preferred having an actual book title mentioned instead. Yes. I am that picky. >.< But, with time running out, and wanting to complete the 2018 list as much as I possibly could, I went ahead and got myself a Poe book that had that short story in it.

Like most horror fans, I had a Poe phase when I was younger. In high school I read a lot of his short stories and his poetry. Masque of the Red Death has always been my favorite item from him. That story is AMAZING. It has, however, been a loooonnngg time since reading Poe in high school, or any Poe for that matter.

The book I checked out from the library is a collection of Poe’s 9 best short stories, listed in the order that they were originally published.

  • Ligeia
  • The Fall of the House of Usher
  • The Murders in the Rue Morgue
  • The Masque of the Red Death
  • The Pit and the Pendulum
  • The Tell-Tale Heart
  • The Gold-Bug
  • The Black Cat
  • The Cask of Amontillado

Most of these stories I had already read. The Fall of the House of Usher, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, and The Gold-Bug I had not read before. Ligeia, not only had I never read before, but I had also never even heard of that one (as far as I recall). Because I was short on time this month and still have other books to read before the year is over, I decided to skip re-reading the stories I already knew, and just read the one I needed for the challenge plus the 4 I had never read before. So in this review, I’m only going to talk about those 4 stories I had not read before, while briefly mentioning the others at the end of the post.

I had a lot of problems reading Ligeia. I really struggled with Poe’s word choices and prose. He goes all out in showing you how fancy he can write and how vast his vocab is. It was a little bit too much for my brain to wrap around. I got the gist of the story though. I think…? It was a very odd story… There is this woman, who is amazing. There is a guy who loves her. Then the woman dies. So the man marries another woman. Man hates his wife and longs for the amazing woman. Man does lots of opium. Wife dies. Then she comes back to life but it is no longer the wife that is there, but the amazing woman back from the dead. Ok… so…. huh? Is the amazing woman taking over the dead wife’s body? Is this ghost possession? Is it all made up because the man is on so much opium he has no clue what is really going on? So many questions at the end of this one! I didn’t care for this one. The style was difficult for me to follow and with too many questions at the end left me feeling frustrated.

The Fall of the House of Usher was a lot easier for me to read and was much more like the Poe I remembered. Like so much of Poe’s work, this story displayed how familiar Poe was to mental health issues, especially depression and extreme anxiety. While this story is not a favorite of mine, I do love how Poe describes the anxiety and the tension that rises from it. You can feel the anxiety slowly start to squeeze around your heart, gripping it tighter and tighter until the very end. There was a lot to digest in this story, particularly the connection between the twins sickness and the decay of the house of User.

The Murders in the Rue Morgue is a story I had always wanted to read. It has been long hailed as a grandfather to the modern mystery. Sadly, even though I had never read the story before, I knew about who the killer was. I WISH I could have read this without having already known about that! Going in to the story already knowing that, I think it took some of the fun out of it for me. :/ I can just imagine what a twist it was back in the day this story came out…. to read a story that talked about figuring out the clues and following the trail of logic to the surprise killer ending. Wish it hadn’t been spoiled for me long ago. I did enjoy watching the main characters follow a long the investigation. Even with the spoiler, it was still an interesting story.

The Gold-Bug was another story I hadn’t read. Unlike Rue Morgue, Gold-Bug had not been spoiled for me. In fact, I went in knowing nothing about this story other then it was another one of Poe’s mysteries. I was surprised that it was more of a treasure seeking action adventure story. I had not been expecting that at all. I love treasure seeking action adventure stuff. Yay! 😀 I was really surprised at how well thought out every detail was in this story. It was seriously well crafted story and puzzle. A very enjoyable read and I’m happy I finally got around to reading this one.

The rest of the stories in this short story collection are stories I already knew and loved. They are amazing works of horror that seriously know how to raise the tension bar to an extreme my-heart-is-about-to-explode!! level. I have always thought that Mr. Poe is seriously one of the best all time writers at capturing what it feels like to have extreme anxiety disorders and depression. Even today, with more knowledge in how the brain works and mental health, you still don’t find that many authors who can write it as convincingly as Poe. This was an excellent collection of his best short stories and a very entertaining quick read. Highly recommended for new and old fans alike.

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