When Daphne arrives in Berlin, the last thing she expects is to run into more drama than she left behind. Of course, she knew she'd need to do the usual: make friends, acquire lovers, grapple with German and a whole new way of life. She even expected the long nights gorging alone on family-sized jars of Nutella, and the pitfalls of online dating in another language. The paranoia, the second-guessing of her every choice, the covert behaviors? Probably come with the territory. But one night, when Daphne is alone in her apartment, something strange, unnerving and entirely unexpected intervenes, and life in bohemian Kreuzberg suddenly doesn't seem so cool. Just how much trouble is Daphne in, and who - or what - is out to get her?
Cinematic and confessional ... Daphne’s narration is riddled with omissions and reversals that intensify the mystery of the broken window ... The sensuality of Setton’s prose and the electric atmosphere of suspense that envelops Daphne’s Berlin undermine the novel’s important critique, however ... Setton risks casting these issues as costs of freedom for women living and traveling alone, rather than illuminating the ways in which they limit the scope of said freedom ... Daphne hungers for human connection even as she physically deteriorates. A look inside her mind reveals the force of danger thinly veiled behind the romantic glow of youth.
Highly entertaining ... In the course of this witty and unsettling romp, Setton locates the humor and pathos in personal crisis while nimbly sidestepping the perils of the coming-of-age travelogue ... It’s true that Berlin probably couldn’t sustain much more action than it has; the promise and suspense in the writing aren’t quite rewarded by incident or revelation. But it scarcely matters: It’s written in funny, punchy vignettes perfect for consumption between U-Bahn stops, and a few hours in the presence of Daphne Ferber pay generous spiritual dividends.
Setton is good at conveying the anxiety of millennials confronted with endless possibilities. She writes perceptively about the destabilising effects of vulnerability and loneliness in an unfamiliar environment. There’s also plenty of humour in Daphne’s overthinking and her cynical approach to dating ... Things take a darker turn when she becomes convinced she is being stalked by a rejected boyfriend. Daphne’s not a particularly sympathetic character, but we begin to care about her when we realise just how off-kilter her life has become. Setton builds her growing paranoia and sense of dread to terrific effect in this unsettling, compelling read.