There are some stories from Edgar Allan Poe that amazed me at some point, others that gave me chills and a little fear, and there are others that were just a pleasant surprise, but nothing else. That’s the case of one of his police tales for which his is most known nowadays: The Gold-Bug.
The story seems to be pretty simple and with not a big relevance when it comes to an actual plot, as it is about an interesting and exciting adventure done by two friends and the servant of one of them, searching for what they think may be a great treasure no one else has been able to find.
However, things end up not being as easy as this intrepid trio thought at the beginning, starting to succumb at the effect of their own nerves, stress and confusion. What seemed to something curious and interesting starts to show the worst side of each of them, before an end can be reached.
In The Gold Bug, we won’t get any phantom, ghost, specter, supernatural creature or magic of any kind. This is not a tale with these elements or anything remotely similar, but a tale more focused on mental abilities, highlighting human capabilities and how far can our brain go if they are applied correctly.
Although the main idea, which is a treasure hunt because of a singular bug and the ideas a man gets by thinking on it, the narrative is somewhat disappointing, heavy, hard to follow from beginning to end, and filled with many fancy words that only make it more challenging to understand what Edgar Allan Poe was writing.
What bothered me at first about The Gold-Bug was that it was such a simple story, with nothing that remarkable or relevant, and that relays on its characters’ abilities to decipher a mystery. This could be considered one of the first detective stories for some of us, and has the pros and cons of the time’s style, but to have such simplicity, and coming from Poe is what didn’t let me enjoy the reading as in other cases.
This is one side of Poe I explored for the first time, and despite it wasn’t the best experience and not even near to how I thought it would be, I cannot deny that it was interesting and fresh. The Gold-Bug shows how versatile this man was and gives another reason to love his work and memory, as if there were not enough of both.
Don’t get me wrong, this story doesn’t disappointing at all, as it still keeps you immersed in the plot, maybe not as much as other darker tales, and with even more reason if this is not the kind of readings you’re used to, but it wasn’t the experience I thought I will have, to be honest.
I can clearly see why many people have been amazed because of this story, as it gets really interesting in the second half of The Gold-Bug, after a long explanation on how things took their path and shape, and you can be sure that I liked to know more about this page after page, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a heavy reading.
As I see it, you should know all of this before start with this one, in case you commit the same mistake as I and forget that Poe was, besides a writer interested in the darkest side of gothic literature and horror, he was a lover of mysteries and detectives as well. Not the best of his creations, if you ask me, but you’ll be able to like and enjoy The Gold-Bug by keeping this in mind.