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Ghost Girls

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  123 ratings  ·  38 reviews
'Get on with things. That was how Wendy had met her death. She'd been hiding something and no one had noticed. Everyone had been too busy getting on with things. Sophie knew this pattern like a favourite tune. Move on, get on. Make a ghost.'

Winter in Sydney. The city is brimming with foreign students. Sophie Sandilands takes a job teaching at an English language school.
Paperback, 278 pages
Published March 1st 2016 by Echo Publishing
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Average rating 3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  123 ratings  ·  38 reviews

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Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-books, aww2018
The murky underworld of Sydney’s Chinatown district jumps off the pages of Australian author Cath Ferla’s debut novel, Ghost Girls. This riveting crime mystery novel explores the world of international students living in Sydney, exposing a dark side to the lives of students studying, working and living on our shores.

Ghost Girls begins in Sydney, during winter. Sophie Sandilands is a teacher at an English Language school. Sadly, when one of Sophie’s students
Carol -  Reading Writing and Riesling
Feb 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Gritty. Raw. Perfect!

My View:
Ghost Girls richly evokes the sights, smells, tastes and sounds of Sydney's Chinatown, and imagines dark exploitative demands behind closed suburban doors – AGREE!

This was a fantastic read –dark, edgy, evocative, sparsely but succinctly worded, the edges softened with the sharing of rituals – personal, habitual, cultural.

The settings - so realistic; I don’t recall reading food and culture as such an essential ingredient for setting the scene in a work of crime
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Ghost Girls is the first novel by Australian author, Cath Ferla. Sophie Sandilands teaches at Uniform English, a language school in Sydney catering for foreign students. When one of her students, Wendy Chan jumps off the building to her death, Sophie can’t help but investigate. She has the makings of a PI in her blood, even if she has rejected that career. As she tries to figure out why a promising student would commit suicide, her chats with other students, together with her own observations ...more
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
What a fabulous debut novel!

Sophie Sandilands is an ELICOS teacher at a well-regarded Sydney language school. When one of her students seemingly commits suicide, the detective side of Sophie's pedigree kicks in and she finds herself drawn into Sydney's seedy and dangerous underbelly, looking for some missing female Chinese students.

Set in inner Sydney, mainly around Chinatown, this book has so much atmosphere I could practically smell it! The story was fast-paced and kept me guessing right up
Mar 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Sophie Sandilands is teaching English in Sydney at a school for foreign students when one of her students commits suicide by jumping out a window. When it later turns out that the student had taken on someone else’s identity, Sophie becomes curious as to what happened to the original student and soon finds herself investigating the world of foreign English students. What she finds shocks her, girls forced to work in the sex trade to make enough money to pay their rent and school fees. But it is ...more
1.5 This book was not my cup of tea at all. I found it hard to follow what was happening at times, and the illegal brothel scene, along with porn films etc, isn't a world I'm interested in learning anything about. The descriptions of some of the restaurants and the sights and smells of Chinatown was quite well done, but because this isn't an area I'm familiar with, I didn't have a lot I could relate to in this book.

I actually put the book aside for several months before getting back to it - this
Mar 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing

Steeped in the smells and sounds of Sydney’s Chinatown,weighted by the sinister atmosphere of a private world of terrible crimes,Ghost Girlsis a remarkable debut novel.

The combination of plot, character and setting inGhost Girlsis perfectly balanced, and the delivery is pitched elegantly to provide insight into the depths of the depravity of the crimes, without making even the most sensitive reader turn away:Newtown Review of Books

Lynn Mccarthy
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ghost Girls is a great debut novel by Cath Ferla. Sophie is a likable protagonist, exploring a dark side of international students in Australia.
Intriguing storyline and subplots.
It was paced well, with enough of a trail of clues and mysterious (traumatic) back-story for the reader to be hungry for more.

Thank you Netgalley the Author and Publisher for a copy of this book.
May 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Sophie is a teacher at an English language school for Asian students in Sydney. When one of her students commits suicide, she is drawn into investigating the tragedy. She quickly unearths a cover-up in the school involving students swapping identities. Fraud, however, is just the tip of the iceberg and many more illegal activities are being carried out by someone close to the school. Meaning Sophie’s own life is in danger should she continue to poke her nose around somewhere she shouldn’t.

Natalie  S
Mar 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Review score: 3.5/5

Cath Ferla has taken the road less travelled in her debut novel, Ghost Girls. The book is set in contemporary Chinatown in Sydney and holds nothing back in its depiction of foreign students caught up in illegal prostitution and sex work as well as visa fraud. This novel feels quite real and is a promising mystery/crime book that contains a very interesting star in protagonist, Sophie Sandilands.

The author of Ghost Girls has worked professionally as a writer for 15 years in a
Jan 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
GHOST GIRLS took me into a world that I really hadn't thought too much about - English language students who come to Australia, mainly from China. Many of them come with high expectations, not much money, and very homesick. I probably knew all that. But the book gives the reader a "behind the scenes" look at the sleazy Sydney underworld that preys on these students, and just how vulnerable they are.

Sophie Sandilands is part Chinese herself, brought back to the "safety" of Australia from China by
Mar 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
A seedy side to Sydney that you hope doesn't exist but there are sometimes snippets in the news to indicate that it may well be lurking around the fringes. Cath Ferla has written a fascinating story about Chinese students attending English colleges in Sydney and their overwhelming desire for a better life in Australia. The grass is not always greener... A fast-paced mystery that will keep you intrigued right up to the last page. Thank you to The Reading Room for this copy.
Philip Hunt
Cath Ferla comes with a decent ouevre and (what looks like) an all-girl production team. Ghost Girls is part-thriller, part-adventure and part-detective. It's an enjoyable read, best taken in just a few sittings because there's a bunch of characters to follow. The plot is not complicated but there are enough little twists to keep you wondering, especially one near the end (well done, Cath!). Some of the encounters between characters might have more to do with plot mechanics than believability, ...more
Christina Hannan
Ferla’s novel is thrilling to the point where once the story really gets going, it’s addictive. The way she jumps from the various points of view is almost effortless and it does so in a way to heighten the tension and further the plot without hindering the pace. The characters are great to follow along with and they all deal with the themes of identity, loss, morality, and struggle all in their own ways. If you’re looking for a thriller that’s set in Australia and has a compelling plot, this is ...more
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I found this on the $10 shelf at Target and bought it for a plane trip. I couldn't put it down. It revolves around an English Language school in Sydney and a teacher there who becomes involved with a student's death. It has themes of alienation, dislocation, unhappiness, racism, family expectations and society's failure to support and understand migrants. It's also an excellent thriller and a study of Chinese culture, belief and values. Excellent reading!
Jan 21, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is great for it's Sydney references, and it's insights into English Language schools and the sub class of Asian students our politics and job market have created. It's also an ode to Asian food. An interesting read. A who-dunnit worth investing in.
Kirsty Fraser
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
couldnt put it down! at first i was like not sure if this is my tyoe of book, but once i got into it i couldnt stop. it has a realistic feel to it knowing of the underwrold of sydney, a eye openier didnt want it to end. could have a sequel it i would deffentantly read it..
Suzy Dominey
Aug 22, 2017 rated it liked it
easy reading with a few red herrings thrown in to put doubt in to whom were the "baddies". Hopefully this is the beginning of a series, with the characters established but still some unknown qualities and back stories to fill in.
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thriller
HOW HAVE MORE PEOPLE NOT READ THIS ???? this was amazing, and i was kept on tender hooks from the first page,,, very well written, sydney truly came alive
Amra Pajalic
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime, ozauthor
A great crime thriller set in Sydney. An engrossing read that got its hooks in me that seems like it comes straight from the newspapers.
Louise Easson Burke
May 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Riveting read that had me on the edge of my seat. I also loved the author's descriptions of tastes and sounds of China and Sydney which pulled me in to the story as though it was happening around me.
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An interesting insight into exploitation, and a story of remarkable persistence.
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Was a bit skeptical but brought a lot in to sight regarding isolation of foreigners. But ended up being a good read.
Lizzy Chandler
Jul 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Ghost Girls is the debut novel by Cath Ferla from Echo Publishing, the publisher that last year gave us Emma Viskic’s excellent Resurrection Bay. It’s primarily a mystery story, rather than suspense or thriller, though there are thriller elements in it.

The story centres around Sophie Sandilands, an English language teacher, resident in Sydney, who is of mixed Chinese-European heritage. Sophie has memories of her birth place, Hong Kong, and she has experience teaching English in China. With this
Christine Sun
Sep 01, 2016 rated it liked it
A debut crime novel, Ghost Girls give us a good story that can be better told.

With that said, perhaps most striking about this book is Cath Ferla’s use of smells and tastes, which, in her writing, play a prominent role in the lives of Chinese people in their home country and overseas, in this case Sydney’s Chinatown. Smells and tastes help to shape and give depth to the protagonist Sophie Sandilands, in the context of her mother being an ethnic Chinese from Hong Kong, her housemate and potential
Cass Moriarty
Jul 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Echo Publishing is making a name for itself with gritty Australian crime novels - recent releases include Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic and Skin Deep by Gary Kemble (with the sequel, Bad Blood, out next month). Both were debut novels, as is this book: Ghost Girls, by Cath Ferla. Set in the heart of Sydney's Chinatown, and exposing some of the city's darkest secrets, Ghost Girls is a whodunnit mystery thriller that moves with a cracking pace from the very first pages when we meet Han Hong, held ...more
Barbara Rohde
Aug 18, 2016 rated it liked it
The sexual exploitation of Asian young women who come to Australia to learn English is the subject of this mystery that opens with the suicide of Wendy Chan. Sophie is Eurasian herself with Chinese ethnicity and teaches English at a language school in Sydney. Her father was a private investigator and she seems to have inherited these tendencies and curiosity. Sophie also has an incident in her past, from when she spent time in China, that continues to haunt her. The mysteries in the book propel ...more
Aug 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Ghost Girls is a mystery/thriller set in the Chinese community in Sydney, Australia. Our heroine, Sophie, teaches English to at a school new arrivals. The daughter of a detective cannot resist investigating the death of one of her students and the disappearance of another. The investigation leads Sophie into a dark underground of sex slaves, S&M, and snuff films.

The plot is not very original, but the story moves along briskly, and the setting offers a lot of interesting color. Sophie has
May 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Sophie Sandilands, Ferla's protagonist, teaches English to the passing parade of international students who come to Australian cities to learn English. Private colleges, none too careful with their records, treat teachers and students alike as profit-making units.

However, that is not the main thrust of this novel which takes the reader on a wild tour of Sydney's Chinatown, which turns out to be tasty at times and downright awful at others. Note: Ferla can certainly capture food, but be warned,
Niki King
Mar 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It has been a while since I have read any crime fiction and Ghost Girls was a great way to get back to it. Ghost Girls is a satisfyingly fresh and original story that leaves you feeling haunted both by fictional events portrayed as well as the very real potential for the exploitation of those that are young, lonely and invisible in a big city. A real achievement of this book is the window for empathy that Cath Ferla provides for the reader through her thoughtful story telling that recognises the ...more
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