If you’ve listened to the podcast for more than two seconds, you know that the Fire and Starlight saga by Amber D. Lewis is required reading in this household. And when you’re friends with the author, you get fun perks like early copies of upcoming releases…in this case book 3.5 of the series, Stray: Kai’s Story.

VERY mild spoiler ahead for the previous books, but I don’t think it actually really spoils anything. Proceed at your own discretion.

Kai was an immediate favorite for me when he was first introduced and I hoped beyond hope that we would be getting his story in the third novella - and I am so glad I got my wish! Told in dual timelines, we see Kai’s first experience with his wolf form and the journey he goes on when he reluctantly splits from Astra.

When you read a good deal and/or everything from an author, you learn a little bit of what to expect from their future work. What I expect from Amber is pain with a tiny sprinkle of hope and this story definitely delivered that. Delving into Kai’s past gives us a better understanding of who he is in the present and I feel like it also informs the depths of his relationships with the rest of the ensemble cast, particularly Astra.

We are introduced to a couple new characters in this story that were instrumental in Kai’s mission. I hope that also means they will play a part in the final book because I’m not ready to let them go. Amber has a way of introducing characters that you immediately grow attached to and it makes you excited to see more, but also nervous because she also has a way of ripping your heart to shreds. And yet we still keep coming back for more.

After the heaviness of The Stardust in the Ashes, this novella brings a little levity back and is the perfect primer before heading into the final book. Sprinkled with a light dusting of hope at the end, we’re prepared to go into the final battle…even if we know all our favorites may not make it out alive.

Stray: Kai’s Story by Amber D. Lewis is the third novella in the Fire and Starlight saga, best read after The Stardust in the Ashes. It hits shelves on June 6, 2023 and you can preorder a signed paperback from Amber’s website now. While you’re there, make sure you pick up signed copies of all the other books in the series and maybe a couple of goodies while you’re at it. Use code ‘FANGIRL10’ to get 10% off your order!

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the author for free and have voluntarily written this review.