Skip to main content

Book-To-Movie: Guest Blogger Alex Cavanaugh Reviews 'Relic'

Front cover to Preston and Child's novel, "Relic", with an illustration of a long, dark tunnel.
Credit: Tor Books

The fourth weekend of the month, when we normally have our Book-To-Movie review has passed us again. However, the review is still on! This month I have a guest blogger for our Book-To-Movie review. The two of us agreed to trade our book-to-movie reviews and present them to you today, this last Monday of the month. In a Book-To-Movie, we review a work of prose fiction and its movie adaptation. 

And my guest blogger and reviewer is Alex Cavanaugh. Alex is the author of the Cassa series of novels and founder of the Insecure Writers' Support Group! Here at the Fantastic Site, he’s reviewing a best-selling novel of detective horror, "Relic", and its movie adaptation. In turn, at his site, I have the pleasure of reviewing "The Black Phone" short story by Joe Hill and its movie adaptation. So, after you're finished reading Alex’s awesome review, please leave a comment for him in the box below and then head on over to his website to check out my review of the "The Black Phone". Let us not delay any longer and move on to Alex's review of the "Relic"!


Guest Book-To-Movie Review


Released in 1996, Relic (Pendergast, Book 1) by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child was the first book following Agent Pendergast. (There are over twenty now.)

The basic synopsis:

Just days before a massive exhibition opens at the popular New York Museum of Natural History, visitors are being savagely murdered in the museum's dark hallways and secret rooms. Autopsies indicate that the killer cannot be human...

But the museum's directors plan to go ahead with a big bash to celebrate the new exhibition, in spite of the murders.

Museum researcher Margo Green must find out who--or what--is doing the killing. But can she do it in time to stop the massacre?

The story is spectacular. It’s a rare page-turner that you can’t put down, similar to Jurassic Park. The authors have masterfully woven together horror, suspense, and a crafty detective story.

They have also introduced some interesting characters. This becomes our first exposure to Agent Pendergast, and after the sequel, Reliquary, he quickly gained a huge fan base. (There is even a website dedicated to him - He’s a quirky character and certainly one of my favorite literary characters. Margo Green is a tough and smart researcher and the next main character. She is joined by Lt. D'Agosta, and the two of them go on to appear in numerous other Pendergast stories.

The museum setting adds a very creepy vibe to the story. Almost all of the story takes place there and the authors use the museum to their advantage, ramping up the atmosphere and fear.

Then there is the creature, something out of a nightmare. The three must not only track it down but figure out where it came from in the first place. And what exactly it is. (Or who.)

The movie Relic was released in 1997, spurred by the huge success of the book. It was directed by Peter Hyams and starred Penelope Ann Miller, Tom Sizemore, and Linda Hunt.

I actually saw the movie first and it was a decent creature feature. The setting and basic storyline follow the book rather faithfully. The creature stalking the museum is huge and terrifying. The special effects department did a great job bringing it to life. Margo is just as sharp and the one who defeats the creature in the end. Overall, it was well done and quite enjoyable.

And then I read the book. And it completely ruined the movie for me.

The movie left out Agent Pendergast. 

While he was not the huge star yet, he was the main character. Plus, he would go on to star in so many more Preston and Child books. This could have been the beginning of a great franchise for the studio, following a detective almost on par with Sherlock Holmes. They missed a huge opportunity. And they alienated fans of Pendergast and the authors’ books.

If you separate the movie from the book, it’s an enjoyable creature feature. But leaving out a main character is an unforgiveable sin. It still follows the book, but it substitutes Lt. D'Agosta as the hero.

So, in this instance, if you want to enjoy the movie at least once, I recommend watching it first. If you’d rather just go straight to a great story and one of the best literary characters ever created, then skip the film and curl up with an outstanding book.

A cartoon ninja holds an electric guitar with one hand and raises the other hand in a victory gesture.
Credit: Alex J. Cavanaugh

Alex J. Cavanaugh works in web design and graphics. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is known as Ninja Captain Alex and is the founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. His Cassa books are Amazon Best Sellers and winners of the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award.

Six books from the Cassa series of novels by Alex Cavanaugh.
Credit: Alex J. Cavanaugh

Thanks Alex, for sharing this wonderful review of a groovy book and movie! I’ll have to read and see them, they both sound really interesting. 

Book-In-Progress (BIP)

I'm still grinding away at the two short stories I talked about last time for my upcoming short fiction collection, "Bad Apps". I've also been a little behind on producing the cover, but I'll be resuming that hopefully this week sometime. 

I'm still looking for beta readers for "Bad Apps", and so if you're interested in reading the book before its official release and helping me make improvements, and, of course, getting a free beta copy! then please let me know in the box below. You can also email me at More great beta reader benefits are listed in the July 24 post. For more details about the progress and behind-the-scenes of "Bad Apps", sign up for my newsletter, "Night Creatures' Call". It's free! Hopefully, we'll see you at Alex's blog!

Have you read Preston and Child's novel "Relic" and/or seen its movie adaptation? If both, what did you think of the movie omitting the book's main character, Agent Pendegast?

Until next time . . .


  1. I loved your comment "I read the book and it ruined the movie for me." Lol! Murder in an old museum sounds especially creepy. I'll put the book on my TBR list. :)

  2. I loved the same comment as Elizabeth. I'm not sure how the movie could leave out such an important character. I think I'd enjoy the book though.

  3. I was completely underwhelmed by whatever Preston and Child book I read Long Ago, avoided them since, and now think--based on this review--that might have been a mistake. Good review.

  4. Yes, leaving the main character out of the movie is shocking to me! That's why I have never sold any of my stories to Hollywood. wink wink. I would cry if they massacred my beautifully written tale.

  5. Everyone, you'd really enjoy the book. Had everything going for it.

  6. I have not read or seen Relic and probably won't because I'm a scaredy cat. I will have it in my dreams. I always think to see the movie first because the books are usually better. Glad you had a good swap with a fellow blogger

  7. To leave a lead character from a book out of a movie would just be going a little to far for me. But then kind of like you were saying, Alex, there are movies based on books that if they don't follow the book sufficiently they can be really good on their own and so as their own thing. I've seen some movies like that. Thanks again for trading reviews with me!

  8. We love the entire Pendergast series. How in the world did they manage to leave him out of the movie? Ack.

  9. I haven't read the book or seen the movie. Museums can be a bit creepy.

    1. That's why they can make good settings for horror fiction and films. Full of artifacts that hold mystery and ancient curses, sometimes even fossils that come out of millions of years of hibernation!

  10. (Or who.) ! Leapin' lizards, Captain! Way to reel me in. But then they leave out the main character in the movie? You're right, it's unforgiveable. I guess there is always that possibility anytime you sell your work.
    I've enjoyed this, thanks guys!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Book-To-Movie: ‘I Am Legend’

A vampire similar to the ones in 2008's "I Am Legend" which starred Will Smith. Credit: It’s time for another Book-To-Movie review! In a Book-To-Movie, I review a book and its movie adaptations. This month’s book and its movies based on it is I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. While vampires were no longer in in the American pop culture of the the 1950s, science fiction horror in general was. So Matheson’s I Am Legend brought the scientificising of vampires into the pulp literary scene of that era. Not too long after, in the early ‘60s, the first of three book-to-movie adaptions appeared and was renamed The Last Man On Earth which starred Vincent Price. The other two were The Omega Man starring Charlton Heston in the ‘70s and I Am Legend starring Will Smith in the 2001s. Even though each one debunked the myth of the vampire as a supernatural being, each had its own depiction of the creature. ‘I Am Legend’, The Book Set in a near post-apocalyptic fu

Book-To-Movie: Stephen King’s 'The Raft'

Credit: It's the third Saturday of the month and so that means it's time for another Book-To-Movie ! In a Book-To-Movie we review a book and its movie adaptation. One of the reasons I as a horror fan don’t read a lot of Stephen King’s work is because most of it consists of novels that go more than 400 pages. I have a short attention span when it comes to reading, ironically since I consider myself an avid reader, and so I normally won’t read a work that is much more than the equivalent to a 350-page mass market paperback. The other reason why I don’t read a lot of King’s work is that, as literary scholars will tell you, a lot of his writing is poor. However, he does have some good writing in his works, especially his earlier stuff, including his short horror tales. So if I read anything by Stephen King it’s usually his short stories or novellas. One of his collections I’ve read is Skeleton Crew which includes some of his good, or at least better, fi

Elizabeth Mueller: Diehard Romance Author Writing Science Fiction

Credit: Pixabay Today we have another guest blogger! May I introduce to you author Elizabeth Mueller ! I’m very grateful for Elizabeth to be with us this post. She is, as she puts it, “a diehard romance” writer yet has also written and published in other fiction genres, including science fiction and fantasy. She’s currently working on a dystopian sci fi / fantasy / romance novel which she’ll be sharing with us a segment from. Both a full-time author and a homeschooling mom of five kids, Elizabeth has contributed to several science fiction anthologies, including steampunk, while still writing in her favourite genre. Let me not delay any longer: here’s Elizabeth discussing her writer’s journey from speculative fiction to realist fiction, to romance!  Guest Blogger: Elizabeth Mueller Thank you for having me over at your lovely place, Steven! You’ve asked if I could talk about speculative fiction. To be honest, I’ve always wondered what that was and never tried to understand it as I’ve alw