Are you a true princess? Please sleep on this towering pile of mattresses and report back to us on your experience of the night (aka did you feel the pea under the bottom of the 1543275849327th mattress?!?!) to find out if you're a true princess OR NOT. What a bizarre idea for a fairy tale. I've expanded it from the standard Princess and the Pea fairy tale to a more general contest to become a Princess or test of general Princesstry
Princess Academy (1 of 2) by Shannon Hale
Published Year: 2005
Genre: YA Fantasy
"Miri lives on a mountain where, for generations, her ancestors have quarried stone and lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king's priests have divined her small village the home of the future princess. In a year's time, the prince himself will come and choose his bride from among the girls of the village. The king's ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess.
Miri soon finds herself confronted with a harsh academy mistress, bitter competition among the girls, and her own conflicting desires to be chosen and win the heart of her childhood best friend. But when bandits seek out the academy to kidnap the future princess, Miri must rally the girls together and use a power unique to the mountain dwellers to save herself and her classmates."
Princess Academy isn't a straight and narrow version of any of the Princess Tests tales, but it's closest to a Princess Contest. A Princess Contest where the contestants must actually attend an academy to make sure they are properly educated to become the Princess -- a fact I particularly enjoyed! I really like Miri as a main character, and I enjoyed following her adventures in books 1 and 2!
Violet Eyes by Debbie Viguie
Published Year: 2010
"When a storm brings the dashing Prince Richard to her family's farm, Violet falls in love at first sight. Richard also gives Violet his heart, but he knows his marriage is destined to be an affair of state, not of passion. For the king and queen have devised a contest to determine who will win their son's hand in marriage.
To be reunited with her prince, Violet must compete against princesses from across the land. It will take all of her wits - and a little help from an unexpected source - if Violet is to demonstrate the depth of her character and become Richard's bride."
Violet Eyes is a straight up Princess and the Pea retelling, no twists or turns in this one. It's still worth a read though if that's what you're looking for! I think DV has a simple, easy to read writing style that makes the story flow very quickly, so it's a quick read!
A Posse of Princesses by Sherwood Smith
Published Year: 2010
"Rhis, princess of a small kingdom, is invited along with all the other princesses in her part of the world to the coming of age party of the Crown Prince of Vesarja, which is the central and most important kingdom. When Iardith, the prettiest and most perfect of all the princesses, is abducted, Rhis and her friends go to the rescue.
What happens to Rhis and her posse has unexpected results not only for the princesses, but for the princes who chase after them. Everyone learns a lot about friendship and hate, politics and laughter, romantic ballads and sleeping in the dirt with nothing but a sword for company. But most of all they learn about the many meanings of love."
Try not to judge this one by its cover (I know it's hard...), but an interesting take on the standard Princess Contest, with a twist at the end! Rhis was one of those all around good characters that never seems to do any wrong. I love those characters (as does everyone else).
The Princess Test by Gail Carson Levine
Published Year: 1999
Subtitle: Good, but not Great
"King Humphrey has decided its time for his son, Prince Nicholas, to marry. But he must make sure the bride is a real princess. So he devises a series of princess tests, designed to weed out the phonies and the fakes.
Meanwhile, Nicholas has fallen in love with Lorelei, a mere blacksmith's daughter. She's no princess, but he wants to marry her all the samebut how will she ever pass the terrible tests?"
I love Gail Carson Levine fairy tale stories. I think she does an excellent job, and this one is no exception. Here is her take on a Princess Test for making sure a girl is a True Princess.
A True Princess by Diane Zahler
Published Year: 2011
Subtitle: Good, but not Great
"Lilia must save her best friend, Kai, from a terrible enchantment caused by their perilous encounter with the Elf King and his beautiful daughter.
The only way for Lilia to break the spell is to find a mysterious jewel of ancient power hidden somewhere in the North Kingdoms. But the jewel will not be easy to find. The castle where it lies is caught up in a different kind of search—the search for a true princess!"
A little bit of a stretch, but still a search for a princess is involved. I'll label it Princess Search. This middle-grade retelling was a memorable one for me, and I'd highly recommend it for any younger readers.
The Selection (1 of 3) by Kiera Cass
Published Year: 2012
"For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself—and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined."
Kiera Cass turned the Princess Contest into a dystopia, which I'll give her credit was not an easy feat. (Personally, I think she let the dystopian aspect completely fall off her radar in later books and just wrote about the fairy tale part, but I digress, & that's a rant for another time). A very popular, young adult, dystopian-esque version of a princess competition!