Note: most of my short fiction is available for free on various internet archives. Where the work is only available in a print or ebook anthology, I’ve linked to Barnes and Noble or Amazon.
Shadows and Bells, Kaleidotrope, January 2018.
Every sentence is gorgeously shaped and polished.Myth and fantasy, fairy tale and reality, combine to create a deeply moving story about death and life, love and longing, and making choices that change everything—even who and what you are. A dark, gleaming gem of a story. – Maria Haskins, Barnes and Noble.
This is one of those stories which it is just a pleasure to savor the words. Beautiful. Sam Tomaino, SFRevu
The standout in the December Lightspeed is “You Will Never Know What Opens” by Mari Ness, a portal fantasy about a house with many doors to many worlds. – Rich Horton, Locus.
…it’s a fun piece with a sort of yearning pull to it, a want to find something that will be perfect, and yet also being okay if that never happens, because the looking is its own reward. A fantastic way to close out the issue! – Charles Payseur, Quick Sip Reviews
…a delightful, thoughtful portal story about all the doors that lead elsewhere. And it has cookies! I love this. – A. Merc Rustad.
The Cat Signal, Daily Science Fiction, September 2016. Mostly fantasy/humor.
Dragonbone, Daily Science Fiction, July 2016. Fantasy.
“Mistletoe and Copper,” An Alphabet of Embers, Stone Bird Press, July 2016. Fairy tale. Available through Amazon here.
“… strike[s] with a ragged edge, the character’s desperation and grief thick as congealing blood.” – Charles Payseur, Nerds of a Feather.
Brilliant writing, an original idea, and fantastic prose – Maria Haskins.
…does an excellent job of portraying the loneliness of being trapped in an inescapable situation – Nicky Magas, Tangent Online
The Middle Child’s Practical Guide to Surviving a Fairy Tale, Fireside Fiction, May 2016. Fantasy.
Cat Play, Metaphorosis Magazine, January 2016. Fantasy.
Sometimes Heron, Lackington’s, July 2015. Surreal/weird.
Short and sweet, there is a depth to it that makes it…a compelling experience. Nerds of a Feather.
The Dollmaker’s Rage, Daily Science Fiction, June 2015. Fantasy.
Inhabiting Your Skin, Apex Magazine, June 2015. Weird fiction/science fiction.
It’s a story that probably deserves more than one reading, but even at one it manages to be interesting and creep out. A rather disturbing story told well. Charles Payseur, Quick Sip Reviews.
Mari Ness makes this short story as elegant as possible, wrapping up her fable with an ending both earned and thoughtful. Gillian Daniels, Fantastic Stories of the Imagination.
Chosen by io9.com as a speculative short story of the week.
Offgrid, Three Lobed Burning Eye, December 2014. Science fiction.
You won’t find all that many dark stories on my list of favorites. The ones I do like tend to be etched in beautiful language or have some element of revenge to them (I love a good revenge story). This is not revenge story. – K. Tempest Bradford, io9.com
Coffin, Daily Science Fiction, May 2014 Magic realism.
Short but engrossing. Ness relates the history of a familiar fairy tale artifact in an original way. But first she builds a real-feeling world around the artifact — so well realized that it’s not clear that this is a fairy tale take-off until well into the story. – Matthew Bennardo
Ink, Journal of Unlikely Cryptography, February 2014 Mostly fantasy.
A chillingly Kafkaesque tale – Lois Tilton,
The tension is almost entirely in the imagination of the reader. The text has told us nothing about what makes this world so dangerous, and yet we are absolutely certain that it must be because we can feel it lurking just beyond what has been said. The world building is in what has not been, or cannot be, explained. Ness has done a masterful job of manipulating the reader into doing the work. We can imagine far worse than what could ever be said. – Charlotte Ashley, Apex Magazine.
…strong emotional resonance, this is re-imagination of a familiar story done right. — Carl V. Anderson, SF Signal.
Honorable Mention, The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Eighth Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois
The Dragon and the Bond, Daily Science Fiction, December 2013 Fantasy.
An Assault of Color, Apex Magazine, October 2013 Fantasy, science fiction undertone.
Stronger than the Wind, Stronger than the Sea, Demeter’s Spicebox, July 2013 Fairy tale/science fiction; contemporary setting.
“Godmother,” “Marmalette,” and “Palatina,” in Missing Links and Secret Histories (Aquaduct Press, July 2013) Retold fairy tales; other works in this anthology are science fiction, fantasy and alternate history.
The Princess and Her Tale, Daily Science Fiction, May 2013 Fairy tale.
Labyrinth, Apex Magazine, December 2012 Dark fantasy.
“Lovely and crunchy and dark…” – K. Tempest Bradford
Honorable Mention, Best Horror of the Year 5, Ellen Datlow
“Safe,” in Beast Within 3: Oceans Unleashed, Graveside Tales, December 2012. Folklore retelling.
A Cellar of Terrible Things, Shimmer, July 2012 Very dark fantasy.
“…the most beautiful, strange thing I’ve read all day.” — Tiny Cat Pants
Selected as a storySouth Million Writers Award notable story of 2012
“….beautiful and haunting”, Ken Liu.
Honorable Mention, Year’s Best Science Fiction: Twenty-First Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois.
Honorable Mention, Ellen Datlow’s The Best Horror of the Year, Volume 4
“transfixed from the first line….strange and dark and lovely…” Robert E.Stutts
Twelve Days of Dragons, Fantastique Unfettered, Issue 3. September 2011. Fantasy. The original link seems to have vanished, but I later posted the story up on Livejournal for free here.
“The story was incredible.” SFF Portal.
A storySouth Million Writers 2011 Notable Story
Sister and Bones, Demeter’s Spicebox, Cabinet des Fees, April 2011. Fairy tale.
“…excellent…” Terri Windling.
Mademoiselle and the Chevalier, Fantasy Magazine, November 2010. Fairy tale.
A Million Writers Notable Story, 2010
“…vivid, engaging and sad, all at once.” The World SF Blog
“….sly, quite well-written…Ness really delivers.” Tangent Online
Twittering the Stars, Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic SF, Solaris Books, March 2010. Hard science fiction.
“….immediately engulfs you in the drama” Charles Tan.
“…a grippingly personal narrative.” New Scientist.
“…absorbing and complex,” Huffington Post
“One of the most original stories I’ve read in years…” The BN SciFi and Fantasy Blog
Ravens, The Phantom Queen Awakes, Morrigan Books, January 2010. Fantasy.
The Fuddles of Oz, Shadows of the Emerald City, Northern Fights Publishing, October 2009. Oz. Horror.
“…made me smile in delight of such strange creatures and shiver at their eventual fate.” Jennifer Brozek (originally published in Apex Magazine.)
Playing With Spades, Fantasy Magazine, August 2009. Contemporary fantasy/magic realism.
“Understated, confidently written, and pretty elegant,” The Black Letters.
Wooden Apologies, Farrago’s Wainscot, July 2009. Surrealism.
Choking on Red Flowers, The Edge of Propinquity, May 2009. Weird fiction.
End of Time, Desolate Places, Hadley Rille Books, October 2008. Weird fiction.
The Shadow in the Mirror, Fantasy Magazine, May 2008. Dark fantasy.
A Convenient Removal, Fictitious Force, April 2008 (out of print and fairly unavailable) Contemporary fantasy.
Remembering Sara, Coyote Wild, Summer 2007. Science fiction.
Assistant, Reflection’s Edge, May 2007. Science fiction.
Kittensplodge and the Awful Correspondence, Reflection’s Edge, 2007. Science fiction.