Having seen "Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust" long before this book became available, I have found it difficult to judge the book on its own merits without comparison to the anime. "Bloodlust" was a masterpiece: great characters, artwork and animation among the best ever, tremendous action, tragedy, pathos, imagination; it had it all.
Not unexpectedly, the book contains quite a number of differences from the film. Quite a number of scenes from the movie simply are not there: the confrontation on the bridge is missing; the scene where the father asks D to find his daughter is radically different, but much creepier; the ending is different and more tragic. Much of the book would not have worked as well visually and much of the movie would have been less effective in print.
The book, though, was the original, and it deserves primacy. It is a bit more lurid, creepier, and perverse in places. The movie is more of an adventure story with horror elements, but it is more true to the air of Kikuchi's series, steeped foremost in the horror tradition. As with the first book, many questions are answered that were never quite explained in the movie, including the nature and origin of the face in D's hand.
Comapared to the other VHD books, this one is an easier read; the translator is doing a good job, and seems to have a better grip on how to handle Kikuchi's sometimes overrich descriptions and mood-setting. The first book was not an easy read, but there were many connections to the first movie that made it easier to follow; in fact, the book cleared up a huge number of ambiguities and questions left over from the movie. The second book was lurid and dense; it took a fair amount of effort to read, and the pure horror quotient was stronger. Even so, it was still a good read.
This third installment is worthwhile both for its connection to the movie and for its differences. You get much more of the true mindset of its author, and it's definitely more of a pure supernatural horror story. Differences from the movie aside, it's simply an excellent horror novel and is unquestionably worth the time and effort. The excerpt from the fourth book at the end already has me anxiously waiting for its August release; it looks like quite a different story tack and has a very different style of opening than any of the other stories.